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Spark switches on 5G in New Plymouth & Te Awamutu

11 Dec 2020

New Plymouth and Te Awamutu are the two latest additions to Spark’s 5G rollout, with 5G going live in both locations this week.

Te Awamutu is of particular significance because it is home to Spark’s third-busiest mobile cell site for mobile data usage in the country.

Spark Technology lead Renee Mateparae says the company has now switched on 5G in five locations across New Zealand this year (Auckland, Dunedin, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, and Te Awamutu). This rollout has been made even more challenging by the pandemic.

“Despite this, we are on track with our build program and excited to switch on 5G in Te Awamutu and New Plymouth today. As we deploy 5G to new locations it is great to see real-life examples of people and businesses benefiting from the faster speeds and low latency that 5G provides.”

Spark, in partnership with insurance firm Aon New Zealand, is conducting a trial of Spark’s cloud-managed network VMware SD-WAN service, which means 5G connectivity is reliable and fast for businesses.

“As an insurance provider helping people in times of urgent need, it’s really important that we have a reliable, steady internet connection 24/7,” says Aon New Zealand regional IT director Jonathon Cook.

“Aon is excited to be trialling this new technology over Spark’s new 5G network which will provide us with peace of mind should our fibre connection fail. We’re confident that the reliable, fast connectivity of 5G wireless will help us continue to look after our customers, no matter what.”

Significant 5G-related efforts this year include a 5G Starter Fund for New Zealand businesses; a partnership with Toyota in Palmerston North to create test drives in virtual reality, an augmented reality art exhibition in Dunedin, a smart city trial with Auckland Transport.

The smart city trial with Auckland Transport aimed to show off some of the latest Internet of Things technologies and show the ‘future of Auckland’ by harnessing 5G.

Spark and Auckland Transport installed IoT enabled infrastructure at Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter - including 5G connected lighting, smart benches with charging capability, smart bins, and parking sensors.

“We know from existing research that IoT applications can improve quality of life significantly by saving us time, improving health and safety outcomes, reducing environmental impact, and boosting social connectedness and civic participation,” said Renee Mateparae in October, when 5G was launched in Downtown Auckland.

Spark will continue its 5G rollout next year, with new locations to be confirmed in the coming months.