New Zealand mobile operator 2degrees has announced a new infrastructure sharing agreement that will bring an end to national roaming. The deal targets the small pockets of remaining roaming coverage on regional roads and in rural areas, where the company carries less than 1% of its traffic via a partner network.
2degrees, which has invested NZD1 billion (USD645.5 million) over the last decade expanding its network to reach ’98.5% of the places Kiwis work and play’, is now completing its national coverage by using its own spectrum over a partner’s cell sites. The upgrades using 4G are enabled by MoRAN (Multi Operator Radio Access Network) technology, which is designed to improve video calling, streaming and download speeds. The concept was first deployed in New Zealand by the Rural Connectivity Group, a joint venture between 2degrees, Vodafone, Spark and Crown Infrastructure Partners that connects remote rural communities and removes mobile whitespots. ‘Operators will share infrastructure where it makes sense, including in sparsely populated areas of New Zealand because it extends the benefit of competition to less populated areas while reducing costs for network operators,’ 2degrees stated.
2degrees also recently confirmed its plans to build a 5G network, following the government’s decision to allocate early access 3.5GHz spectrum to the company. Chief Technology Officer Martin Sharrock noted that while infrastructure sharing could also make sense for 5G, having a foundation layer of competing mobile infrastructure was important to ensure operators continued to drive each other to invest and innovate.