Spark and network partner Huawei have enabled a faster mobile site in New Zealand at Spark’s Hereford Street exchange in Christchurch. Reaching 1.15Gbps (gigabits per second) in a speed test, it is the fastest mobile data speed in New Zealand, and three times faster than the highest recorded speed on the Spark network.
The companies say the 4.5G technology is an evolution of the current 4G standard that is already available to 90% of where New Zealanders work, live and play on the Spark network, and until now has not been trialled or commercially available in New Zealand.
Spark is delivering it over a wide range of its spectrum assets, including the recently acquired 2300MHz spectrum by utilising “Carrier Aggregation” technology (using multiple bands of spectrum simultaneously to increase speeds and capacity), 4x4 MIMO (utilising multiple antennae simultaneously to multiply available capacity), and 256 QAM (or Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, which improves the efficiency of radio transmissions and allows for more speed).
Spark New Zealand Managing Director Simon Moutter says it gives Kiwis a glimpse into the future of the 4.5G mobile era and demonstrates Spark’s commitment to continually bringing the best innovation to New Zealand.
“The faster speeds of 4.5G will truly help unleash more New Zealanders’ potential, meeting our customer’s demands to do more and wait less. Today’s customers are consuming data-rich services and applications, and just as 4G was a quantum leap over 3G, 4.5G will begin to enable new technologies like 4K video, and virtual and augmented reality for our customers,” Moutter said.
The new technology has been deployed on a combination of 2300MHz spectrum - only acquired by Spark a few weeks ago - and the existing 2600MHz and 700MHz range.
There are no phones or modems in New Zealand that currently support the full range of 4.5G features, which means the Spark network is now ahead of devices. However, a number of devices including the Huawei P9, Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 6s support some of the features that make up 4.5G, so customers with these devices will be able to enjoy download speeds at least twice as fast, when they are connected to the Hereford Street mobile site.
Central Christchurch has been chosen as the first location for deployment, but Spark customers can expect more areas to be enabled with 4.5G as compatible devices become available. “We’ve chosen to give Christchurch a glimpse into the future first, underlining our commitment to the region and our support for regenerating Christchurch. Late last year we committed to work with local councils to support Canterbury’s Regional Economic Development Strategy and fast-track $14 million worth of network upgrades to deliver 4G to 96% of the places rural Cantabrians live and work. Today’s announcement is an extension of this work and shows the value we place on the regeneration of the region,” said Moutter.
Huawei South Pacific President David Wei said the technology was an evolution of existing 4G networks, but delivered a huge performance boost.
“The 4G network we have built with Spark is already one of the world’s best. This next generation 4.5G technology allows us to take full advantage of Spark’s spectrum investment to achieve incredible speeds and bandwidth.”
“This is cutting-edge equipment which, until recently, could only be seen in pilots and in labs. We are very happy to see it deployed in the real world, providing real benefits to the people of Christchurch.”