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Vodafone ups the ante on 5G with Christchurch innovation lab

Speaker series launched to inspire 5G innovation
Science and innovation minister Megan Woods opened Vodafone's 5G lab in Christchurch yesterday

Science and innovation minister Megan Woods opened Vodafone's 5G lab in Christchurch yesterday

Vodafone New Zealand has opened its first Vodafone 5G Innovation Lab in Ōtautahi, Christchurch, and announced a partnership with the University of Canterbury to showcase the technology.

The Vodafone 5G Innovation Lab will aim to help local organisations understand how they can utilise the increased online speeds, responsiveness and capacity the fifth generation network offers.

“Innovating with new technologies will help businesses to compete on the world stage and our Vodafone 5G Innovation Lab is designed to help organisations understand the power of 5G and next generation technologies," said Michelle Sharp, head of South Island for Vodafone NZ.

She said while no one was sure what the next big app or tech application would be, Vodafone wants New Zealanders to have the best chance at inventing it. 

"Just as 4G transformed people lives via increased smartphone capability, 5G has the potential to go even further with the Internet of Things and we’re seeing use cases emerge that centre on connected devices.”

Megan Woods, minister for research, science and innovation, and MP for Wigram in Christchurch, opened the Innovation Lab, which is located in the company’s inner city tari (office) on Tuam Street, yesterday alongside Sharp.

International and emerging local case studies highlight the potential of the fifth generation mobile network, 5G, to deliver benefits across health, transportation, integrated manufacturing, utilities, safety, waste management and intelligent electricity networks amongst others, Vodafone said.

In a survey conducted in September 2019, Cantabrians were the most bullish when it comes to the need for new technologies, with 87 per cent either somewhat agreeing or strongly agreeing that mobile connectivity is important to New Zealand vs 80 per cent nationally.

“The opening of the Innovation hub along with the launch of New Zealand’s research and development tax incentive provides local business a novel network, environment and financial incentive to innovate," Sharp said.

 To further encourage such efforts, Vodafone also announced a speaker series with the University of Canterbury, focused on digital innovation. 

"During 2020 we’ll be delivering six informative and interactive events aimed at both the business community and students," Sharp said.

"The event series will take a look at digital technology that is shaping the way we live and work, and kicks off on April 8 with a deep-dive into innovating with 5G technology.”

Some of the initial local use case developments at Vodafone include a 5G-enabled drone for the NZ Police and an AI-solution for retail stores with the Aware Group. Waste Management, BNZ and Auckland’ Rescue Helicopter are also currently working with Vodafone to design 5G applications.

To access 5G, Kiwis need a 5G device and plan and be in a 5G coverage area. 

Vodafone said customers will be able to experience 5G at no extra cost until 30 June 2020.