​Spark and Vodafone lay network foundations as new towers expand mobile phone coverage

“People living and working in these areas can now use their mobile phones in places where there was previously no coverage."

Fifteen new cell towers added to existing networks have expanded mobile coverage to more than 1700 square kilometres of rural areas previously without coverage.

The new towers are a result of the auction of the 700 MHz band of radio spectrum, won by Spark and Vodafone in 2014.

Under the auction agreement, the telcos were required to build new towers in new rural areas in the first five years after the purchase.

According to Communications Minister Amy Adams, fifteen of these new towers are now complete and servicing remote communities, with 60 more are still to come.

“People living and working in these areas can now use their mobile phones in places where there was previously no coverage,” Adams says.

“This new coverage is essential for emergency situations and will help emergency service providers to quickly reach those needing assistance.

“80 percent of New Zealanders now have access to 4G, or fourth generation, high speed mobile data services and we expect that number to reach 90 percent by 2019.”

Adams says the new 4G networks are delivering better coverage and increased network capacity for New Zealand’s regions - the result is speeds up to ten times faster than 3G mobile.

“This is another important milestone in improving our internet services for individuals, schools, hospitals and businesses, including in rural areas, as New Zealanders seek to take advantage of the benefits of the digital economy,” Adams adds.

Vodafone’s five new towers are in Catlins North (Southland), Waihau Bay (East Coast), Tapawera South (Tasman), Otautau (Southland), and Millers Flat (Central Otago).

Meanwhile, new Spark towers have been built at Castle Hill (North Canterbury), Awhitu North (South Manukau Heads), Porongahau (South Hawkes Bay), Glen Murray (South of Port Waikato), Barrytown (West Coast), Maihiihi (Waikato), Kaniere (West Coast), Gladstone (Wairarapa), Karamea (West Coast), and Kaiaua (western Firth of Thames).

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