Vodafone NZ has completed five site upgrades for 5G services and live network testing is now underway.
The sites, located in and around Mangere in South Auckland, feature upgraded Nokia technology, including 5G-enabled antennas, which will start to deliver faster speeds and lower latency for customers when Vodafone switches on its 5G network in December.
Tony Baird, Vodafone NZ technology director, said the five sites will grow to at least 100 by December.
"We’re working hard to upgrade existing cell-sites in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, which includes extensive testing by our engineers to ensure we’re offering optimum connectivity for our customers at time of launch," Baird said.
The initial 100 cellsites being upgraded include inner-city mobile towers in popular and high-traffic locations such as business districts, shopping malls, event centres and airports.
“We want as many Kiwis as possible to access our 5G network when we switch it on, so we’re focusing our initial roll-out on high-density urban areas in town centres," Baird said.
"As part of the 5G testing, we are checking network connectivity and speeds – and we’re confident Kiwis will be impressed by the faster speeds and lower latency that 5G offers.”
The Vodafone NZ 5G launch has been enabled by the company’s existing 3.5GHz spectrum asset, which the company has owned for many years.
“When we launch we will be leveraging our existing 56MHz of spectrum, so the number of Kiwis who will able to try 5G out for themselves will be significant," Baird said.
As part of the network upgrade, Vodafone is also upgrading 400 existing 4G mobile sites to be 4.5G.
The 5G network build with Nokia passed review from the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) earlier this month.
Vodafone NZ has been advised that the proposed 5G deployment does not raise any network security risk.
5G will power the next evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) and other innovations and will enable hyper-connectivity between machines, smart devices and people, Baird said.