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Vodafone wins 5G bragging rights

Paul Brislen, Editor. 11 December 2019, 9:12 am

Vodafone has won the race to launch its 5G network, offering service on 100 cellsites around the country.

Of course as with all early phase network deployments, coverage is limited and customers will need to upgrade phones and devices to access the new network.

Speeds of up to ten times faster than 4G speeds are suggested but that of course depends on congestion (expected to be light in the early days) and backhaul capacity. 

Some will suggest that 5G will render the UFB fibre to the home project a white elephant but of course fibre provides the backhaul leg of the connection while services like 5G and the upcoming Wifi6 will connect devices to that fibre capacity, meaning the two networks will complement each other.

Customers in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown with an appropriate device will be able to access the network at no extra charge until June when a $10/month 5G surcharge will be introduced.

For many consumer users, the upgrade to 5G is unlikely to produce major changes to the way they use their devices until new apps and services are introduced that will make use of the additional capacity and low latency. At the Vodafone launch the New Zealand Police showed off the potential offered by 5G with a drone that could shoot 4K video but would of course need to operate within the confines of a 5G site to make it work.

However as these services are dreamed up and introduced the network will need to expand, both in terms of geographic spread but also spectrum, a point Vodafone is eager to get across. The telco, and competitors like Spark and 2Degrees, will need access to more spectrum in order to deliver faster speeds around the country.

As for the 5G naysayers, who decry the network for using 'radiation', the battle is almost over. Spark has begun work on its network (and currently has five cell sites operating in the central South Island) while 2Degrees is yet to declare its intentions in this area but a rollout is highly likely in the years ahead. For now, Vodafone gets to claim the title of first to launch a 5G network and the associated bragging rights.


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