Vodafone has consolidated its lead over Spark and 3degrees in the 5G race, saying it has completed the upgrade of its first five cellsites to 5G and will have at least 100 sites upgraded by December when it plans to launch commercial services.
Vodafone NZ technology director Tony Baird said the first 100 cellsites in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown would be in popular and high-traffic locations such as business districts, shopping malls, event centres and airports.
“As part of our network upgrades, we’re also upgrading 400 existing 4G mobile sites to be 4.5G, which will add additional capability of our customers,” he said.
Vodafone’s NZ 5G launch has been enabled by its existing spectrum 56MHz in the 3.5GHz band that it has owned for many years.
Vodafone earlier this month named Nokia as its 5G supplier when it announced its 5G rollout plans. Both Spark and 2degrees have long standing relationships with Huawei which has been banned by the government from participating in 5G on security grounds and neither has given and definite indication of when it will launch 5G services.
Vodafone, meanwhile, is talking up the benefits 5G will bring. Baird said: “5G will power the next evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT), and will enable hyper-connectivity between machines, smart devices and people. The greater control offered to devices powered by the faster transition speeds and lower latency that 5G offers, complemented by advances in battery life, will mean that Kiwi businesses can use 5G as a tool to develop the next raft of technology innovations.”
Vodafone said, initially, mobile customers would be able to access 5G enabled plans for no additional charge, but that it would subsequently introduce higher prices for 5G plans.