Spark has switched on New Zealand’s first live 5G mobile test site in Wellington, following a partnership with Huawei.
Located on the Stout Street Exchange Building, the trial was deployed with specialist equipment and technical support from the Chinese vendor, located directly across from Parliament.
Specifically, the trial will test speeds, coverage and the parameters of the spectrum in a real-world environment, staying live throughout the month of March, while connecting with equipment in a specialised vehicle drive-testing the streets of Wellington CBD.
Testing is being executed as device and equipment manufacturers work towards delivering 5G capable devices in market by late 2018.
“Spark is very excited to be leading the 5G race with this trial, and we intend to be at the forefront of deploying this technology in New Zealand once the required spectrum is made available,” Spark New Zealand managing director, Simon Moutter, said.
“We want to be ahead of the pack in preparing for it, testing it, in deploying it, and we want to be the partner of choice for all of those New Zealand businesses who are starting to think about its uses in their industry.
“We’ve fast-tracked our plans and are committed to creating a 5G Lab in Auckland later this year, where customers can work with us to truly understand how 5G will change their lives and businesses.”
The trial was started by Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Clare Curran, who becomes the first member of the public to run a 5G speed test achieving speeds of over nine gigabits per second.
That’s more than nine times faster than the maximum speeds available to consumers with residential fixed line fibre today, and 90 times faster than today’s most prevalent UFB 100 mbps service.
“Many people have now heard of concepts like self-driving cars, smart cities, virtual and augmented reality,” Moutter added. “Unleashing the full potential of these concepts will require a fast wireless network with a super-fast response time.
“5G will deliver significantly faster speeds and more capacity than previous mobile technology and will support the connectivity of multiple devices with very low response times. It will take us from a world of connecting people to each other and the internet to a world of connecting almost everything.
“While 5G is expected to transform the way we live, work and play in New Zealand, by unleashing significantly more capacity it will allow us to extend our unlimited data plans for both mobile and wireless broadband—which is a great benefit for our customers.”
Operating as a fifth generation of wireless technology, 5G can be up to 100 times faster than 4G.
Spark launched 4.5G in Christchurch CBD in May 2016 and is now the first New Zealand mobile operator to trial outdoor 5G capability.
“We have been a strategic partner of Spark since 2013 delivering its 4G mobile network, the world’s first deployment of 700mHz spectrum in mobile and most recently Spark’s expansion into 4.5G and smart stadium projects,” Huawei New Zealand managing director, Yanek Fan, added.
“At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Huawei announced two world firsts for 5G: a complete end-to-end 5G commercially ready solution and the world’s first commercially available 5G Chipset for a customer device.
“I am excited by the potential for 5G in New Zealand and our intention is to work with local partners to accelerate the 5G ecosystem to enable new experiences, economies and opportunities.”