Vodafone New Zealand has switched on 5G in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, as well as showcased two of the first local use cases utilising the network’s potential to transform New Zealanders lives with increased online speeds, better responsiveness and more capacity for connected devices.
At an event in Wellington, Mana Williams from youth advisory non-profit VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, a partner of the Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone’s charitable arm which aims to improve the lives of young New Zealanders, officially turned on the Vodafone 5G network alongside Thaigan Govender, Lead Engineer on the 5G project .
Jason Paris, Vodafone New Zealand CEO, said: “Our team has been working hard to light up Aotearoa with a remarkable new 5G mobile network, along with awesome new smartphones in time for Christmas.
“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. 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.
“Four in five New Zealanders say mobile connectivity is important to the economy, while three in four Kiwis believe New Zealand will get left behind without access to the latest technologies. We’re pleased to deliver even better mobile connectivity for the country, and provide the next platform for New Zealand innovators to create awesome new applications or businesses.”
Three key elements to getting mobile on 5G
To access 5G, Kiwis need a 5G device from Vodafone New Zealand or selected New Zealand retailers, a Vodafone 5G Ready plan and be in a 5G coverage area. Those customers will be able to experience 5G at no extra cost until 30 June 2020. To access 5G from 1 July 2020, customers will be able to purchase a 5G Add-On for $10 per connection, per month.
5G device launch partner, Samsung has released two new models on the Vodafone 5G network, both offering faster speeds and better processing capacity. The Note 10+ 5G model boasts all the features and capability of the Note 10+ that users love, enhanced by the speeds and reliability of the 5G connection. As well as the Samsung Galaxy A90 5G, which is a more affordable phone, with three rear cameras, an internal expandable memory.
Early 5G use cases are already emerging
Two of the first New Zealand 5G use cases were showcased at the Wellington event, highlighting the potential of the 5G network to transform the way Kiwis live and work.
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.”
Hamilton-based artificial intelligence company, Aware Group, displayed an innovative 5G tool for retail businesses. Chief Technology Officer, Jourdan Templeton, explained: “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.”
Mobile coverage will continue to improve, and fixed wireless will become a reality
The Vodafone team 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 – up from the initial 100 cell sites that are now live.
Tony Baird, Technology Director, explained: “This is day one of our live 5G network and we will continue our work to bring the best connectivity and technology solutions to New Zealanders.
“We’re using 3.5GHz 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 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum so will continue to work with the government on the early allocation and auction processes.”
Vodafone will continue to develop its 5G broadband offering, building on the recent trial the company completed at Wellington Airport showing Kiwis the potential of 5G speeds over wi-fi. “Vodafone 5G fixed broadband solutions will open up connectivity choices for many more Vodafone New Zealand customers, especially those looking for a plug and play wireless solution with quick and easy downloads.”