Vodafone’s first five 5G sites go live for testing in Auckland

29 August 2019

In the countdown to Vodafone NZ’s 5G launch in December, Vodafone’s network team is celebrating a milestone of five completed 5G site upgrades, with live network testing now underway in Auckland.

Located in and around Mangere in South Auckland, the five cellsites feature upgraded Nokia technology, including 5G-enabled antennas, which will start to enable faster speeds and lower latency for Kiwi customers when New Zealand’s 5G network is switched on in December.

Tony Baird, Vodafone NZ Technology Director, says: “The team is stoked to have passed this milestone. Five 5G-enabled sites is only just the start – we’re going to have at least 100 cellsites upgraded by December when we switch on our 5G network for customers to access. We’re working hard to upgrade existing cellsites in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, which includes extensive testing by our engineers to ensure we’re offering optimum connectivity for our customers at time of launch.”

The initial 100 existing cellsites that are being upgraded as part of the pre-launch phase will include inner-city mobile towers in popular and high-traffic locations such as business districts, shopping malls, event centres and airports.

Tony adds: “We want as many Kiwis as possible to access our 5G network when we switch it on, so we’re focusing our initial rollout on high-density urban areas in town centres. As part of the 5G testing, we are checking network connectivity and speeds – and we’re confident Kiwis will be impressed by the faster speeds and lower latency that 5G offers.”

The Vodafone NZ 5G launch has been enabled by the company’s existing spectrum asset, at the 3.5GHz frequency band, which the company has owned for many years. Tony explains: “When we launch we will be leveraging our existing 56 MHz of spectrum, so the number of Kiwis who will able to try 5G out for themselves will be significant.

“As part of our network upgrades, we’re also upgrading 400 existing 4G mobile sites to be 4.5G, which will add additional capability of our customers.”

The completion of these five testing sites follows news that the 5G network build with infrastructure partner Nokia has passed the review from the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), as required under the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013 (TICSA). Vodafone NZ has been advised by the GCSB that the proposed 5G deployment does not raise any network security risk. 

“5G will power the next evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT), and will enable hyper-connectivity between machines, smart devices and people. The greater control offered to devices powered by the faster transition speeds and lower latency that 5G offers, complemented by advances in battery life, will mean that Kiwi businesses can use 5G as a tool to develop the next raft of technology innovations.”

The Vodafone New Zealand 5G network upgrade program and follows similar rollouts by Vodafone in other countries including the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain all of whom are running live networks now. Innovative use cases that are emerging range from smart boats that tell you when they need fixing with 24/7 automated ticketing and real-time tracking at sea – to using 5G to help a blind skiier to conquer the slopes via her smartphone-holding guide.

Tony concludes “We’re excited to bring the future to New Zealand, and help unlock innovations that will enable all New Zealanders to live better, safer, healthier and more connected lives.”

Visit https://www.vodafone.co.nz/5G/ to learn more. 

- ENDS –

Notes to editor:

  • Vodafone showcased the potential of the 5G network technology both in March 2018 and on 1 August 2019, when announcing the December rollout. This announcement focuses on the first five 5G working sites within the network build.
  • At full capability, 5G will enable more than 10 times faster speeds on 5G smartphones than typical 4G today.
  • 5G is a near real-time network that can offer significantly lower latency of <20 milliseconds (ms) for some consumer applications (e.g. gaming or augmented reality) and <5ms for ultra-low latency applications (e.g. in smart factories)
  • We will be communicating with our mobile customers about how to access 5G enabled plans for no additional charge.  In the future we plan to charge a premium for 5G.
  • To be eligible for 5G customers will need a 5G capable device, a 5G enabled plan and be in a 5G connected area.
Vodafone’s first five 5G sites go live for testing in Auckland