Coverage and Capacity: Spark adding new cell sites on wheels


Spark has added an extra six new COW’s (cell sites on wheels) to its ‘herd’ as well as six COP’s (cell sites on platforms) in preparation for the surge of beach hoppers, festival-goers and glampers – ensuring Kiwis can stay connected this summer season.

Hot spots like Whitianga, Picton, and Waitangi are all towns that have permanent cell sites designed to service the expected volumes from the locals. However, come summer time the usual coverage will be compromised when the crowd rolls in, so a temporary solution is required to ensure customers continue to receive the level of connectivity they expect.

Spark Lead for Physical Infrastructure Rob Berrill says that both COW’s and COP’s play a critical part in supporting our customers demand for data.

“This summer Spark will be deploying its herd of COW’s to more than 40 events including Northern Bass, Bay Dreams and One Love, providing coverage for tens of thousands of Kiwis.”

“We continue to see data use explode as more people share their summer experiences online. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp are increasingly popular and require a significant boost to network capacity to ensure customers can keep sharing pictures, posting updates and live streaming.”

Leading up to Summer, Spark and their team of engineers, planners and site managers predict areas that will require temporary coverage and then review the feasible itinerary for each asset before working on the logistics like resource consents, power, transportation and site commissioning.

Spark’s Andrew Ferrier-Kerr is responsible for Spark’s herd of COWs.

“Spark will be providing coverage for the first time at a number of new venues. Gigs like UB40, and Fat Boy Slim are hosted on remote vineyards that haven’t got the coverage and capacity required to service an extra 15,000 people.”

Larger than a normal dairy cow, the Cell site On Wheels’ mast measures up to 15 metres in height ensuring clear, consistent mobile coverage. Spark currently have a total of 32 COWs and COPs.