Spark (formerly Telecom New Zealand) has announced plans to launch a wireless broadband service for people in rural areas of the country using 700MHz 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. The new service will be marketed as a fixed broadband alternative for home and business use rather than a true mobile product, and the telco says it will provide speeds up to ten times faster than those available via the government-backed Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) which uses 3G technology to reach outlying areas.
Spark is already testing the new wireless broadband product in the homes of employees and will launch public trials next week. A commercial launch date has not yet been announced. The telco paid NZD158 million (USD113 million) to secure 40MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band in government auctions in late 2013/early 2014. It recently announced the launch of its 150th 700MHz LTE base station.