Is Spark moving ahead of the pack in 4G network build race?

Spark New Zealand believes it is overtaking its rivals in respect of 4G mobile data services, after making "rapid strides" in its network build over recent months.


Spark also launched commercial 4G services over 700MHz in August, with an initial focus in the Waikato region. The 700 MHz rollout will be a key focus of the company’s mobile network improvements through 2015.

Earlier this year, Spark invested $158 million – more than double its nearest competitors – to acquire the maximum amount of 700MHz radio spectrum as part of a Government auction process.

Havercroft says the telco also investing in new 4G technologies that will drive improved experiences for mobile customers using the Spark Network.

“All of our 4G cell sites are ‘category 4’ capable, which means they can give speeds up to 50% faster than other 4G cell sites," he adds.

“We have also installed a technology called “Carrier Aggregation” on some of our cell sites in Auckland, with plans to roll it out further over time - this essentially doubles data speeds, by using two spectrum bands at the same time.”

“It’s about future proofing. As our customers upgrade to newer and more sophisticated devices that can capitalise on these new 4G technologies – and we know the average high end mobile device owner now upgrades their device every 18 months or so – they are going to notice a big improvement in speeds on the Spark Network.”

Havercroft believes the partnership with global technology company Huawei – which has more than 70,000 staff worldwide focussed just on research and development -- was giving the Spark Network a competitive edge.

Last month, Spark and Huawei signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate further on ways to underpin New Zealand’s mobile future.

As the demand on New Zealand’s mobile networks accelerates over the past few years, with around 70% of New Zealanders now owning a data-capable smartphone, Havercroft adds that Spark currently provides 3G mobile services to approximately 97% of populated areas across the country.

In 2015, Havercroft expects 4G coverage will "grow over time to similar levels."

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