Vodafone New Zealand has launched commercial 5G services in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, the telco said in a release.
The operator has already installed a total of 100 5G sites across the country.
As part of an initial commercial offering, Vodafone New Zealand customers will be able to experience 5G at no extra cost until the end of June 2020, after which an add-on will be available for NZD10 ($6.53) per connection, per month.
Jason Paris, Vodafone New Zealand CEO, said: “This is just the beginning of a new technology era for New Zealand. We expect Vodafone New Zealand customers using 5G to experience mobile download speeds of potentially 5-10 times the current 4G speeds. This means Kiwis can download large files like movies much more quickly and start to experience a new world of entertainment such as cloud-based gaming – while businesses can further innovate with new technologies and connected devices.
“5G is our most powerful tool yet that will make the ‘life remotes’ in our pocket even more essential,” he added. “The fifth generation network will mean our cities and communities can become more connected, smarter, safer and healthier. 5G represents greater speed, latency, capacity and security – as well as an enhanced internet of things. If 4G was the era of the smartphone, 5G will be the era of connected everything.”
Two of the first New Zealand 5G use cases were showcased at the launch event in Wellington, highlighting the potential of the 5G network.
Rob Cochrane, New Zealand Police Chief Information Officer, presented a 5G-enabled drone that can take 4K quality video and feed it back instantly to police officers on the ground.
“5G technology will really help us keep New Zealanders safe. While drone footage over a 4G connection is useful, with a 5G network connection the quality improves dramatically meaning we can scan the environment allowing a faster response to keep the community safe,” Cochrane said.
Also, Hamilton-based artificial intelligence company, Aware Group, displayed an innovative 5G tool for retail businesses. The firm’s CTO, Jourdan Templeton, said: “We’ve developed a plug-and-play retail optimisation solution that gives business owners a heat map of how people are interacting with products in their stores. While some of this you can do this over 4G, it now becomes cost-effective with 5G due to the ability to use cloud-based storage enabled by the higher network capacity and greater processing speeds.”
Vodafone New Zealand said that it will continue to build the 5G network over the coming few years, adding Nokia 5G technology to more than 1,500 existing cell sites around the country.
Tony Baird, Vodafone New Zealand Technology Director, explained: “We’re using 3.5 GHz spectrum to launch 5G, and our current radio spectrum holdings will mean that Vodafone customers see an uplift of up to 10 times current 4G speeds. However to reach the one gigabit speeds that we’re seeing internationally, we’ll need approximately 100 megahertz of 3.5 GHz spectrum so will continue to work with the government on the early allocation and auction processes.”
Last month, rival operator Spark New Zealand announced the launch of 5G service in selected areas of Westport, Clyde, Twizel, Tekapo and Hokitika., using the 2.6 GHz band and equipment from Nokia.
The operator had initially launched 5G in Alexandra for a limited number of enterprise and consumer customers.
Spark recently confirmed Nokia, Samsung and Huawei as preferred equipment suppliers.