New Zealand’s largest fixed and mobile telecoms operator Spark has issued a statement on its three-year strategy covering the period ending June 2023, focusing on ‘a core set of organisational capabilities that will differentiate Spark and provide better experiences for its customers, fuelling growth in both established and future markets.’ CEO Jolie Hodson declared: ‘[Spark] will accelerate our focus on delivering simple, intuitive [digital] customer experiences … To do this we need to continue to simplify Spark, but we also need to deeply understand our customers … we will achieve this through a more sophisticated use of data, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Our sustained network investment will continue, with a focus on our 5G rollout and on building unconstrained capacity in wireless, which will allow us to respond to the increasing demand for data.’
The statement continued: ‘The new strategy is focused on Spark’s established markets of wireless, broadband and cloud, as well as three future growth markets – IoT, digital health [via the Spark Health division] and sport [via increased Spark Sport platform content]. Our investment in 5G, edge computing and network slicing will open up new opportunities in wireless and will enable smart business solutions … Our FY23 aspiration is to be primarily wireless, digitally native and a leading cloud custodian, with 5G and IoT deployed nationwide … improving the company’s own sustainability performance, lifting digital equity, and supporting New Zealand’s economic recovery and transformation … In New Zealand over 200,000 homes have no internet connection – some by choice, but for the majority this is due to barriers such as cost, or a lack of access or skills. This divide has never been as stark as during COVID-19, and we want to work in partnership with government, businesses, and the community to drive meaningful change.’
Spark also announced that it is removing a monthly data volume cap for its ‘Unplan Metro Wireless’ LTE-based fixed-wireless internet package users, free of charge, effective 23 September. Top-tier package users were previously limited to 600GB per month, but Spark’s technology director Mark Beder said in a press release: ‘We know our customers have been wanting more data since we launched [urban] wireless broadband in 2016, and our goal over the next three years is to make uncapped wireless broadband available to as many New Zealanders as possible.’ TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that in 2015 Spark begin using its existing LTE mobile network to provide fixed-wireless broadband for people in underserved areas, initially in rural zones. The following year the LTE fixed-wireless service was extended to urban areas for households with slow internet connections due to the distance from their nearest DSL exchange and who were not passed by high speed fibre infrastructure. The company reported that 156,000 rural and urban customers were signed up to its fixed-wireless broadband plans at end-June 2020.