Spark launches commercial fixed 5G

Reveals pricing for next-gen wireless services

5G mobile wireless network technology / connections
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Spark has launched commercial 5G services with partial coverage of five South Island towns and communities: Westport, Clyde, Twizel, Tekapo and Hokitika, making New Zealand the 27th country to get commercial 5G services. At this stage only fixed broadband is available.

Spark switched on its first (fixed) 5G customer services in Alexandra in September, but to invited customers only. It also operates a mobile 5G service in Auckland Harbour, but exclusively for the Emirates Americas Cup team.

Spark said it was using latest Nokia 5G radio equipment including a smart antenna system that provides better capacity and coverage that the antennas used for 4G.

The services comes with a new ‘5G Discover’ plan offering 600GB of data, a substantial increase over Spark’s current 4G wireless broadband plans. The cost is based on a customer’s data usage: $75 per month for 60GB or less; $85 for 60GB-120GB and $95 for $120GB-600GB.

The Discovery Entertainment plan has the same data tiers but includes subscriptions to Lightbox and Netflix and costs $85, $95 or $105 per month. However there is a $10 per month discount for users in these five towns for the first 12 months.

The introductory discount makes pricing the same as Spark’s recently announced Unplan Metro wireless broadband plan in Auckland, delivered over Spark’s 4G and 4.5G network.

The service is being offered using spectrum in the 2600GHz band, previously used for its 4G services. Spark technology director Mark Beder said 4G services were still being provided in the five towns by using different frequencies.

“Our preference [for 5G] will always be C band (3500MHz) as we believe this will be the primary spectrum band for mass deployment of 5G. Acquiring enough C band spectrum is an important requirement for all wireless network operators, Beder said. “As the spectrum is released we'll be bringing more services, which we’ll roll out over time.”

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