Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees announce new rural broadband and mobile services in twenty locations

22 August 2019

Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees today announced that new rural broadband and mobile services are now live into twenty rural locations across New Zealand.

The new sites are the result of an industry leading collaboration between the three mobile network operators and Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) to build essential broadband and mobile services for rural New Zealand. CIP contracted the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) which was established to provide connectivity to rural New Zealand. The RCG is a joint venture between Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees, to build, operate and maintain this essential rural network infrastructure. Services are now available over the RCG network to customers of Spark, Vodafone or 2degrees.

The twenty new sites, the first of more than 500 new sites, range from the Far North all the way down to Southland. The new sites will provide high speed wireless broadband and quality mobile coverage to around 1,600 rural homes and businesses, across 70 kms of state highway and to 13 tourist sites. Depending on the customer’s provider and their current mobile phone, some customers may need to get software updates to their phone or upgrade their phone.

Vodafone CEO Jason Paris said “Keeping Kiwis connected is a top priority for Vodafone, and we’re thrilled to be working alongside Spark, 2degrees and the Government to bring connectivity to rural New Zealand, which is the powerhouse of our economy. For this sector to remain competitive they need fast broadband and mobile coverage – not just in offices, but on farms, in schools, and on the roads. This once in a generation opportunity for all three mobile network operators to provide both competitive ultra-fast broadband and world class 4G mobile infrastructure will not only deliver the connectivity for rural New Zealand, but also the safety of Kiwis living in those remote areas.”

Spark CEO Jolie Hodson said, “It’s exciting to see fast broadband and world class mobile infrastructure rolling out into rural areas around New Zealand. The connectivity is much needed to bridge the digital divide for rural communities and help the rural sector remain competitive. Bringing together the investment from Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees along with the Government’s RBI2 funding has been the key to providing service into more challenging and remote areas of New Zealand.”

2degress Chief Commercial Officer and RCG Board member Paul Mathewson said, “We’re proud as an industry to be able to collaborate and work together where it makes sense – and our RCG partnership with Spark and Vodafone is the perfect example. Connecting Kiwis with their loved ones or the people they do business with is at the heart of what drives us at 2degrees, and we’re thrilled that fast connectivity is going to reach the furthest and most remote corners of New Zealand.”

The Government via Crown Infrastructure Partners contracted the RCG to be the infrastructure provider to bring mobile and wireless broadband coverage to rural New Zealand under the Rural Broadband Initiative 2 and the Mobile Black Spot fund.

Once the RCG project is completed it will deliver new mobile and wireless broadband coverage to at least 38,000 rural homes and businesses. It will also provide mobile coverage to a further 1,200 kilometres of state highways and provide connectivity to at least 152 top New Zealand tourist destinations by December 2022.

The RCG network uses Nokia 4G Multi Operator Core Network (MOCN) which has been deployed successfully with three mobile network operators. This new technology allows RCG to deploy one Radio Access Network (RAN) to connect to the three differently architectured core networks of Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees.  

This allows all three mobile networks to provide services to these rural communities from just one cell site that requires only three antennas to operate. 

List of RCG sites that are now live:

Northland Region

Kaihu – Kaipara District Council

Aranga – Kaipara District Council

Fisher Riley – Far North District Council

Whangarei Heads – Whangarei District Council

Pipiwai – Whangarei District Council

Kaiatea Road – Whangarei District Council

Auckland Region

Kaipara Coast Highway – Auckland Council

Te Arai – Auckland Council

Hawkes Bay Region

Waihua Beach – Wairoa District Council

Taranaki Region

Junction Road – Stratford District Council

Ruapehu Region

Raurimu – Ruapehu District Council

West Coast Region

Charleston - Buller District Council

Rapahoe – Grey District Council

Tatare – Westland District Council

Ruatapu – Westland District Council

Inangahua - Buller District Council

Ikamatua – Buller District Council

Southland Region

Morton Mains – Southland District Council

Waikawa – Southland District Council

Otahu Flat – Southland District Council

Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees announce new rural broadband and mobile services in twenty locations