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Vodafone launches 5G - in market by December

Paul Brislen, Editor. 01 August 2019, 12:37 pm

In one of the industry's worst-kept secrets, Vodafone today launched its 5G network at a glitzy event in Auckland.

Using its existing 3.5GHz spectrum, Vodafone will deploy 5G services in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown by the end of the year.

The network itself is built by long-time network partner Nokia, and the first handset will be from Samsung. No word on pricing for handsets or plans at this stage.

Vodafone CEO Jason Paris thanked new owners Infratil and Canadian fund Brookfield Asset Management, which officially took the keys to the business today, and says the company will now accelerate its plans to roll out 5G, enhance its existing 4G networks and also address concerns around support and customer service.

"Today we are announcing a network leadership initiative for New Zealand.  There is a lot more to come in terms of leadership from us. We also have an announcement on service leadership coming soon that will make a significant difference to the delivery of more consistent customer service for everyone. We know we aren't where we need to be on this, so watch this space," says Paris.

Vodafone also showed off various use-case examples of 5G network speeds and what low-latency network connectivity can actually mean in terms of applications in the real world.

It is quickly becoming clear that 5G will largely be a business revolution rather than one delivered via a handset to consumers. While gamers will (allegedly) rejoice at the low-ping connectivity and lagless augmented reality goggles that should avoid the motion sick aspect of current headsets, the real applications will be in machine to machine and remote control of devices.

"5G is starting to shape the future of every sector. In health with connected ambulances and remote surgery, in manufacturing with automated factories and in utilities with smart waste management or intelligent electricity networks. It's starting to benefit communities around the world and deliver social-good outcomes, for example through improved e-learning capabilities. We want all businesses and organisations to see what 5G can do for them," says Paris.

At launch Vodafone is working with four key business customers to deliver service and to trial the new technology.

"Vodafone is already working alongside a number of business partners to understand how the power of 5G can improve the lives of New Zealanders. I'm proud to announce our first four partners, NZ Police, BNZ, Auckland's Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Waste Management. They have agreed to work with us and our partners Nokia, Microsoft, and IBM, to begin to scope their 5G future."


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