Spark New Zealand announced its 5G rollout plan and the opening of 5G Innovation Lab in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct in late 2018.
The country’s second-largest mobile operator has published a briefing paper that outlines how it is on track to start providing 5G services to New Zealand consumers and businesses from 2020. With the opening of the new 5G lab, Spark will allow partner companies to test and develop applications over a pre-commercial 5G network.
Spark expects to fund 5G network development (excluding spectrum and any material move towards widespread rollout of new cell sites using high frequency mmWave band spectrum) within its existing capital expenditure envelope of 11%-12% of revenues. By 2020, Spark expects its wireless-network specific capex to be between 25%-35% of Spark’s overall capital expenditure envelope, up from 25% in the year ended 30 June 2017.
Spark said its already making decisions that are contingent on securing additional 5G spectrum and is having to make those decisions in the absence of any clear government policy on when that spectrum will be available or in what bands. The allocation processes for the two most likely spectrum bands – mid frequency C-band and high frequency mmWave band - should be completed as soon as possible, to ensure 5G services can be delivered in time for the 2020-21 America’s Cup in Auckland as an international showcase opportunity, said the Operator.
In addition to these bands, low frequency spectrum (below 1000MHz) will be required to deliver 5G services on a pervasive basis into rural areas (outside of small provincial towns). The Government’s current work to define 600MHz spectrum as a band for potential 5G use should continue at pace.