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24 Nov 2017 0:20
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  •   Home > News > Technology

    No rush to 5G mobile in NZ

    Neither Spark nor Vodafone are in a rush to pre-empt the launch of fifth-generation mobile technology in New Zealand.

    New Zealand's two biggest telecommunications companies are in no hurry to pre-empt the launch of the fifth-generation of mobile technology.

    Spark chief executive Simon Moutter last week told analysts the country's biggest telco was "excited" about 5G's potential, but that there wasn't enough information to credibly make long-term plans.

    "We're keen but we don't build it into the numbers yet," he said.

    Similarly, arch-rival Vodafone chief Russell Stanners said vendors hyped up 5G to help build demand for their network services, but that he didn't anticipate a commercial rollout for the next-generation of mobile technology until 2021 or 2022.

    "We've still got a lot in the 4G network today," Mr Stanners said, pointing to New Zealand's rapidly expanding fibre backbone.

    Fifth-generation mobile networks, which offer high speed data with very low latency, are seen as a key component of machine-to-machine connectivity, known as the "Internet of Things".

    That's where a device connects to another device devoid of human interaction, with autonomous vehicles or household appliances often cited as easily conceivable examples.

    However, Mr Stanners already sees IoT as a big opportunity for the country's second biggest broadband provider to generate revenue growth.

    Still, building telecommunications networks is expensive.

    Last year, Spark warned telecommunications companies' margins were too skinny to justify $1.7 billion of annual infrastructure spending.

    Even so, 5G technology will need a commercial fibre product - direct fibre access service - to connect large commercial users to the network.

    In a Cabinet paper in June making final decisions on a review of telecommunications law, Communications Minister Simon Bridges noted demand for backhaul services - which opens access and allows interconnection with the fibre network - will probably rise with a growing appetite for 5G due to more densely deployed cell sites and deployment in cities expected between 2020 and 2025.

    Bridges proposed the service's price be regulated from 2019, as it was also a key component for Spark's fixed wireless service which is a rival to Chorus's copper services.

    In submissions on the review of the Telecommunications Act, Spark sought direct fibre access service be designated one of the regulated anchor products under Chorus's net pricing regime.


    © 2017 NZN, NZCity

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