Network Capacity: Spark Adds Third Mobile Node, Strengthens Network

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Spark has announced the addition of a third mobile node or Evolve Packet Core (EPC), adding additional capacity and resiliency to its nationwide mobile network.

Spark previously had two mobile EPC nodes handling large volumes of traffic, based in Auckland and Christchurch. The new third node, located in Porirua, gives the company additional resiliency and the flexibility to shift and re-route traffic around as required, particularly in the case of a natural disaster or emergency.

Spark mobile customers have already devoured 34 Petabytes of data – (that’s over 34 Million Gigabytes of data or 4,886,819 hours streaming Ultra High Definition video) in the first eight months of 2017 compared to 6.89 Petabytes consumed in the same period last year.

This incremental increase in capacity means the Spark network is geared up to meet future technology requirements including the roll-out of 4.5G and the expansion of its wireless broadband service.

Spark’s General Manager of Networks, Colin Brown, says that the changing needs of customers is driving a focus to a wireless future.

“Rapid advances in wireless capability, together with the uptake of mobile apps and video streaming means we see people on the network for longer and downloading more data than ever before.

“We want to ensure we are giving our customers the best wireless experience possible. The installation of this third node is important because our customers expect an ‘always on’ service and so we need to ensure we have the capacity and resiliency to provide this.

“This demand for data means we need to evolve our network and our plans as we have done with the expansion of our 4.5G network and the introduction of our new unlimited mobile data plan.”

Spark is the only New Zealand mobile provider to have deployed next generation 4.5G technology as a pathway to 5G.

Spark has switched on 4.5G in Silverdale, Milwater, Christchurch CBD, Queenstown, Cambridge, Turangi, Alexandra, Cromwell and Red Hill in Whitianga. More New Zealand towns are to be activated with 4.5G within the next 12 months, alongside Spark’s ongoing 4G upgrade and deployment programme.

What is 4.5G?

4.5G is an evolution on 4G. Spark is delivering it over a wide range of its spectrum assets, including the recently acquired 2300MHz spectrum by utilising “Carrier Aggregation” technology (using multiple bands of spectrum simultaneously to increase speeds and capacity), 4×4 MIMO (utilising multiple antennae simultaneously to multiply available capacity), and 256 QAM (or Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, which improves the efficiency of radio transmissions and allows for more speed).