2degrees has joined the likes of Spark and Vodafone NZ in the 5G race, with the telco switching on its 5G network in central Auckland and Wellington for testing and optimisation.
The new 5G sites, which the company noted have been rolled out ahead of the scheduled Q1 2022 launch window, are part of a rollout that will see contiguous 5G coverage across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, initially.
2degrees’ approach to network design and build combines the upgrade of cell sites with new Ericsson 3G, 4G and 5G radio access network (RAN) equipment and the upgrade of the core network. The programme of work has been underway for over two years, the company said.
“5G has now been enabled for test and optimisation purposes in Auckland and Wellington,” 2degrees CTO Martin Sharrock said. “The 2degrees team is gathering valuable data on network and device performance, upload and download speeds, latency and handovers.
“Early test results have demonstrated speeds over 1Gbps. Work has also begun in Christchurch with the first 5G sites due online for testing in December.
“Over the coming months the team will be rigorously testing 5G on numerous devices so when this new network and technology is launched for customers it will be fully optimised on a range of 5G enabled devices,” he added.
According to Sharrock, 2degrees expects to launch its 5G network with up to 100 sites on air and expects to continue to turn on additional sites throughout 2022 as it builds out the network across the country’s main cities.
“One of the many benefits to mobile customers will be the creation of a contiguous 5G experience in areas where there is highest demand and uptake,” he said.
“As the network build radiates out from the city centres in a planned manner, over time, customers will experience continual 5G connectivity as they move across the city.
“In addition, as we continue to evolve our mobile network and add 5G capability, Kiwis will also reap the benefit of significantly increased 4G capability. 4G capacity will on average double after the network upgrades in these areas,” Sharrock added.
In February this year, Vodafone launched its 5G fixed wireless service to rival fibre in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
In October last year, Spark turned on its 5G service in downtown Auckland's Wynyard Quarter, partnering with Auckland Transport to showcase internet (IoT) of things technology.
Spark technology lead Renee Mateparae said at the time that the localised 5G deployment built upon the private network Spark put in place to support Emirates Team New Zealand and the launch of Spark Race Zone the month prior.