Spark has withdrawn its original application to government security agencies to roll out 5G services using Huawei radio access network (RAN) equipment.
Rajesh Singh, Spark’s general manager of value management, said that the company now has three companies – Nokia, Samsung and Huawei – on its roster of preferred RAN equipment suppliers.
Huawei has been operating under a cloud of security accusations in the 5G market in some western countries, but especially those in the Five Eyes security partnership: Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and the UK.
The accusations, for which very little hard evidence has been produced, has become even more complicated since a trade war erupted between the US and China.
“We’ve consistently said our approach to 5G will be multi-vendor," said Singh, as Spark announced plans for further 5G services in regional areas.
"A key reason for this is that 5G technology is still emerging and is likely to develop significantly in the next few years, so a mix of vendors makes sense."
Government approval for any rollout is subject to approval under the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013 (TICSA).
"We have already obtained approval through TICSA to use Nokia 5G RAN equipment for our recently announced deployment in Alexandra, and for our upcoming locations before Christmas," Singh said.
Spark plans to deliver 5G wireless broadband to five more South Island locations before Christmas followed by more from next March.
The roll-out of 5G wireless broadband from March 2020 will use some of Spark's existing spectrum bands and also use Nokia radio access network equipment.
In addition, Spark will continue to use Cisco and Ericsson for separate elements of its existing network core, which has already been upgraded to ensure it is 5G capable.
"We will work through the TICSA approval process in due course with our other RAN vendors, prior to any deployment of their equipment," Singh said.
Huawei NZ deputy managing director Andrew Bowater said in a statement that Huawei and Spark have had a strong partnership over the last six years and Huawei welcome the opportunity to continue that into the future.
“Huawei has signed over 65 contracts to deliver 5G networks worldwide with at least 60 per cent of those being in Europe and including three of the four networks in the UK," he said.
Spark told investors today a broader range of 5G services, covering both mobile as well as wireless broadband, will launch into major centres from mid 2020, "subject to spectrum being made available by the Government".
Spark switched-on the first 5G customer services with the launch of 5G wireless broadband in Alexandra in September. Its technology partner there was Nokia, which is also delivering gear and services to Spark rival Vodafone NZ.
Vodafone has already stitched up spectrum deals and a deal with Nokia to allow it to roll out 5G more broadly.
Mark Beder, Spark’s technology director, said wireless broadband is the first meaningful use-case for 5G in New Zealand and is the focus for the initial phase of Spark’s 5G roll out.
“Our 5G roll out approach is two-fold. Firstly, we are advancing our network delivery plans so we can roll out quickly in major centres once the necessary spectrum becomes available," Beder said.
"Secondly, we’re innovating by repurposing some of our existing spectrum to deliver 5G wireless broadband in places where it will make a real difference to customers.”
Huawei last week announced a "dedication" bonus would be paid to all staff globally for enduring US President Donald Trump's blacklisting of the company.