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Topic # 173694 2-Jun-2015 11:13
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Spark New Zealand to launch fast rural wireless broadband

Thousands of New Zealanders living throughout heartland New Zealand will soon have access to a faster and more affordable internet service as Spark New Zealand announces it has begun nationwide trials of a new wireless broadband product.

General Manager of Wholesale & Product for Spark New Zealand, Lindsay Cowley said: “We are extremely close to launching a new, competitive and affordable product giving rural customers fast and reliable internet access using the 4G network on the 700MHz spectrum.

“We deliberately held off launching a wireless broadband product until we could be confident of delivering a quality service to our regional and rural customers using only the fastest mobile technology available – 4G. And, when we officially launch our wireless broadband product customers won’t require a technician to install the service so they needn’t worry about the shock of big installation costs.

“The uptake of existing Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) products has been quite low with a degree of poor customer satisfaction voiced by consumers and industry spokespeople. Spark’s wireless broadband product will address these concerns and deliver speeds of up to 10 times faster than what some customers tell us they are experiencing on the current 3G RBI product. Our customers expect the very best from the Spark New Zealand network, and we intend to deliver a world class, reliable solution for rural residents.

Mr Cowley says Spark New Zealand’s product will also be different to other wireless broadband products because it won’t require a technician to install the product or any external antennas – saving customers valuable time and money.

Last year Spark New Zealand future-proofed its network by investing $158 million to secure four lots of the 700MHz spectrum – more than any other provider.

“The 700MHz spectrum is like a highway and we secured more lanes – four in fact - on that highway – over 30 per-cent more than anyone else. By adding more 4G lanes we’re adding more capacity to our mobile network so that we can offer our customers faster, more reliable speeds and a seamless experience using the 4G network, even as 4G becomes available to more people. 700MHz is also the ideal spectrum to roll out fast 4G services to rural and regional cell sites across New Zealand due to its greater reach of coverage from the cellsite over other frequencies.”

Because of Spark New Zealand’s commitment to offer a quality wireless broadband service with no large installation costs*, the product will initially be available to customers in selected areas covered by 4G on the 700MHz spectrum. On launch, customers will be able to access an online tool to check their range of 4G coverage over 700MHz to see whether they are in an area suitable for wireless broadband.

“We’ve been working hard and fast over the past 12-months to leverage the spectrum advantage we have by successfully rolling out 4G to 150 cell sites across the country on 700MHz. We’re excited that this number is increasing by the day and as our coverage footprint of 4G over 700MHz expands so does the number of customers that will likely be able to access wireless broadband for a more affordable option to use internet services.”

Spark New Zealand has begun nationwide trials of its wireless broadband product with staff this week and customer trials will start early into next week.

“We think the right thing to do by customers is to carry out trials of the product so we can get valuable feedback from both staff and customers and make the necessary improvements to the product and the experience ahead of its launch,” said Mr Cowley.




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  Reply # 1316083 2-Jun-2015 12:05
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A good initiative by Spark, but by not having an external antenna, they are greatly limiting the number of customers who could successfully use this service.  Maybe an external antenna option will come later?





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  Reply # 1316092 2-Jun-2015 12:13
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grant_k: A good initiative by Spark, but by not having an external antenna, they are greatly limiting the number of customers who could successfully use this service.  Maybe an external antenna option will come later?

Yep, agree. A lot of hilly terrain in the Waikato that makes installing without external antenna, or professional guidance not such a good idea. That's ok though, I'm happy to help sort out these broadband issues too with an external antenna kit or at least help the customer position the indoor install correctly :)





Chorus has spent $1.4 billion on making their xDSL broadband network faster. If your still stuck on ADSL or VDSL, why not spend from $150 on a master filter install to make sure you are getting the most out of your connection?
I install - Naked DSL, DSL Master Splitters, VoIP, data cabling and general computer support for home and small business.
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Need help in Auckland, Waikato or BoP? Click my email button, or email me direct: [my user name] at geekzonemail dot com


 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1316169 2-Jun-2015 13:23
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Yep, Spark are deluding themselves if they think 700mhz means no antenna.

That said, good to see 700mhz 4G is being rolled out. I can think of one person I know who is on marginal rural Spark 3G (2100mhz with antenna) so this will give them an option to improve their service.

I'm still waiting for Spark to offer something like 2degrees "12GB for 6 months for $99" that they've offered for about 4 years now.
The closest Spark has is "5GB for 3 months for $89"

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  Reply # 1316182 2-Jun-2015 13:31
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Publius: ...
I'm still waiting for Spark to offer something like 2degrees "12GB for 6 months for $99" that they've offered for about 4 years now.
The closest Spark has is "5GB for 3 months for $89"

Yes indeed, the key point will be what sort of plans they have to offer.  Vodafone have set the benchmark with 30GB for $95 per month including a phone service with unlimited national calling.  Others such as Ultimate have much larger data caps but you do pay quite a bit more for them.

If Spark come into the market with competitive plans it might encourage Vodafone to offer something more generous than 30GB for a similar price.  After having a 60GB cap for the past 6 months, there's no way I could make do with 30GB now.





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  Reply # 1316248 2-Jun-2015 14:39
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Being RBI-dependent myself, this interests me very much. However I am currently with a small ISP that resells Vodafone 3g. I was very glad to be able to get that at the time (I was in dial-up hell). Is there any prospect that this move by Spark will prompt Vodafone to follow? I am salivating to get 4g but I actually like my current provider and would be reluctant to change.
 




I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


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  Reply # 1316269 2-Jun-2015 15:08
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Rikkitic: Being RBI-dependent myself, this interests me very much. However I am currently with a small ISP that resells Vodafone 3g. I was very glad to be able to get that at the time (I was in dial-up hell). Is there any prospect that this move by Spark will prompt Vodafone to follow? I am salivating to get 4g but I actually like my current provider and would be reluctant to change.
 

According to info I have seen, Vodafone will soon release 4G-enabled SIMs which will unlock sites on 1800MHz and 2600MHz for those who receive a signal from them.  For 700MHz sites, you will have to wait a little longer until a new router is released, together with a new 700MHz aerial.  Both of these are also due quite soon.





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  Reply # 1316274 2-Jun-2015 15:13
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grant_k:
Publius: ...
I'm still waiting for Spark to offer something like 2degrees "12GB for 6 months for $99" that they've offered for about 4 years now.
The closest Spark has is "5GB for 3 months for $89"

Yes indeed, the key point will be what sort of plans they have to offer.  Vodafone have set the benchmark with 30GB for $95 per month including a phone service with unlimited national calling.  Others such as Ultimate have much larger data caps but you do pay quite a bit more for them.

If Spark come into the market with competitive plans it might encourage Vodafone to offer something more generous than 30GB for a similar price.  After having a 60GB cap for the past 6 months, there's no way I could make do with 30GB now.


Yes, it totally depends on the plan offered. I also have an interest in rural broadband. Unless the plans are comparable to what residential customers can get in cities, with uncapped plans, then they will be getting a second class service IMO. With ondemand video there is really no option but uncapped services long term.

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  Reply # 1316276 2-Jun-2015 15:19
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mattwnz:
grant_k:
Publius: ...
I'm still waiting for Spark to offer something like 2degrees "12GB for 6 months for $99" that they've offered for about 4 years now.
The closest Spark has is "5GB for 3 months for $89"

Yes indeed, the key point will be what sort of plans they have to offer.  Vodafone have set the benchmark with 30GB for $95 per month including a phone service with unlimited national calling.  Others such as Ultimate have much larger data caps but you do pay quite a bit more for them.

If Spark come into the market with competitive plans it might encourage Vodafone to offer something more generous than 30GB for a similar price.  After having a 60GB cap for the past 6 months, there's no way I could make do with 30GB now.


Yes, it totally depends on the plan offered. I also have an interest in rural broadband. Unless the plans are comparable to what residential customers can get in cities, with uncapped plans, then they will be getting a second class service IMO. With ondemand video there is really no option but uncapped services long term.

Looking for uncapped plans on wireless is an unrealistic expectation because the frequency spectrum is a finite resource.  4G wireless plans may soon be as fast as mid-range fibre connections, but if Vodafone or Spark permitted unlimited plans on their networks, the speed would soon drop to a crawl as everybody piled into Netflix etc.

The best we can hope for is increasing data caps over time, with the speeds remaining the same or perhaps a little faster as newer devices are brought to market.  However, rural dwellers will always pay more for comparable broadband plans than what their city cousins do -- it's just a fact of life and no amount of complaining will change it.





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  Reply # 1316282 2-Jun-2015 15:46
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grant_k:
mattwnz:
grant_k:
Publius: ...
I'm still waiting for Spark to offer something like 2degrees "12GB for 6 months for $99" that they've offered for about 4 years now.
The closest Spark has is "5GB for 3 months for $89"

Yes indeed, the key point will be what sort of plans they have to offer.  Vodafone have set the benchmark with 30GB for $95 per month including a phone service with unlimited national calling.  Others such as Ultimate have much larger data caps but you do pay quite a bit more for them.

If Spark come into the market with competitive plans it might encourage Vodafone to offer something more generous than 30GB for a similar price.  After having a 60GB cap for the past 6 months, there's no way I could make do with 30GB now.


Yes, it totally depends on the plan offered. I also have an interest in rural broadband. Unless the plans are comparable to what residential customers can get in cities, with uncapped plans, then they will be getting a second class service IMO. With ondemand video there is really no option but uncapped services long term.

Looking for uncapped plans on wireless is an unrealistic expectation because the frequency spectrum is a finite resource.  4G wireless plans may soon be as fast as mid-range fibre connections, but if Vodafone or Spark permitted unlimited plans on their networks, the speed would soon drop to a crawl as everybody piled into Netflix etc.

The best we can hope for is increasing data caps over time, with the speeds remaining the same or perhaps a little faster as newer devices are brought to market.  However, rural dwellers will always pay more for comparable broadband plans than what their city cousins do -- it's just a fact of life and no amount of complaining will change it.

A reasonable reduced speed such as 1mbps is reasonable.

eg 30gb high speed data then 1mbps after that. Shouldn't impact the site capacity too much but still somewhat usable.

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  Reply # 1320498 9-Jun-2015 18:11
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does anyone know the true range of the 700 network.
we have one in our area.
the coverage map shows it going way up the takaka valley but my LTE 700 phone only shows 4G  about 3 klm before and after the road into town.
i thought the idea with 700 was that it traveled along way

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  Reply # 1320504 9-Jun-2015 18:14
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kaihoka: does anyone know the true range of the 700 network.
we have one in our area.
the coverage map shows it going way up the takaka valley but my LTE 700 phone only shows 4G  about 3 klm before and after the road into town.
i thought the idea with 700 was that it traveled along way


The range of the 700 network is exactly the same as the existing 850 3G network - it can't be better otherwise you'd have no fallback.

One very important thing people also forget is that your phone is the limitation, not the frequency or network. Your phone has an incredibly small antenna and power output, so will always struggle to talk back to a cellsite. Vodafone's fixed installs overcome this with an external antenna and radio.


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  Reply # 1320505 9-Jun-2015 18:19
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kaihoka: does anyone know the true range of the 700 network.
we have one in our area.
the coverage map shows it going way up the takaka valley but my LTE 700 phone only shows 4G  about 3 klm before and after the road into town.
i thought the idea with 700 was that it traveled along way


One other complication could be that carriers in NZ don't use LTE for calls, only data, so you would need to be inside 850Mhz coverage for calls.
Coverage maps can be a a bit iffy at the best of times too.

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  Reply # 1320526 9-Jun-2015 18:28
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I have a cousin in a rural area who would love this. He has wireless RBI via Vodafone, however he was told his serving tower was to be upgraded to 4G some months ago. Sadly this is yet to materialise.
He has satellite with Farmside but the data allowances are far too small and he is getting dropouts, which isn't really suitable.
If he can get this he would be very happy.

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  Reply # 1320531 9-Jun-2015 18:38
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thank you for your replies
the tower is in the middle of the  takaka town and the 3G coverage is pretty much as the map says and i thought the 4G be the same.
my nokia lumia 640 picks up the 3G very well with the small antenna.
i was hoping it would provide a solution for my friends who have a copper connection way up a valley and connect at a crawl.
i am fortunate i have RBI.
when vodafone upgrades my tower to 4G will i still need an antenna.
the impression i got from the spark announcement was that people would not need them for good signal

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  Reply # 1320562 9-Jun-2015 19:26
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sbiddle:
The range of the 700 network is exactly the same as the existing 850 3G network - it can't be better otherwise you'd have no fallback.



It would appear Spark are pushing this boundary with their 700 rollout. If you look closely at their coverage maps for rural Waikato you will find a lot of pockets of LTE 700 coverage, but no 3G coverage. Also their press statement tends to support this to: "due to its greater reach of coverage from the cellsite over other frequencies". Though this is technically correct, in practise it is not true unless you are happy to have no fall back for voice.





Chorus has spent $1.4 billion on making their xDSL broadband network faster. If your still stuck on ADSL or VDSL, why not spend from $150 on a master filter install to make sure you are getting the most out of your connection?
I install - Naked DSL, DSL Master Splitters, VoIP, data cabling and general computer support for home and small business.
Rural Broadband RBI installer for Ultimate Broadband and Full Flavour

 

Need help in Auckland, Waikato or BoP? Click my email button, or email me direct: [my user name] at geekzonemail dot com


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