Spark has announced the commercial launch of 5G wireless broadband in selected areas of five small towns and communities on New Zealand’s South Island. The service, which has been trialled in Alexandra since September of this year, is now available in Westport, Clyde, Twizel, Tekapo and Hokitika, with further locations coming next year. Spark has created a new ‘5G Discover’ plan which provides up to 600GB of data per month and is priced between NZD75 (USD48.2) and NZD95, depending on data usage. The 5G Discover Entertainment plan, meanwhile, includes Lightbox and Netflix and is priced between NZD85 and NZD105 per month. For these five towns Spark has included an introductory discount of NZD10 per month for the first twelve months of the plan. The trial service in Alexandra will become available commercially in December. Mark Beder, Spark’s Technology Director, claimed the generous data allowance ‘opens up an attractive proposition for a lot more customers, as it can offer fibre-like speeds in places with no or limited fibre coverage’.
Spark noted it can offer 5G services in heartland towns following a recent wireless network upgrade, which enhanced capacity by around 80% over the past two years and included the extensive rollout of LTE-A. The operator is currently using 2600MHz spectrum to provide services using Nokia 5G radio equipment, although it would prefer to use the 3500MHz band when it is released. The operator will continue to offer 4G services in towns covered by its 5G network, but over its other spectrum bands.