Vodafone New Zealand announced the launch of a live 5G trial in Auckland. Located in and around Mangere in South Auckland, the five cell sites feature upgraded Nokia technology, including 5G-enabled antennas.
“The team is stoked to have passed this milestone,” said Tony Baird, Vodafone NZ technology director. “Five 5G-enabled sites is only just the start – we’re going to have at least 100 cell sites upgraded by December when we switch on our 5G network for customers to access. We’re working hard to upgrade existing cell sites 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.”
Vodafone said that the initial 100 existing cell sites 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 centers and airports.
“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,” Baird said.
The telco said that the 5G trial has been enabled by the company’s existing spectrum in the 3.5 GHz frequency band.
“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,” Baird added.
The completion of these five testing sites follows news that the 5G network build with Finnish vendor Nokia has passed the review from the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), as required under the Telecommunications Act 2013. Vodafone NZ has been advised by the GCSB that the proposed 5G deployment does not raise any network security risk.
Vodafone has already launched 5G networks in the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany.
In the U.K., Vodafone’s 5G service is now live in Birkenhead, Bolton, Gatwick, Lancaster, Newbury, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London.
In July, Vodafone also confirmed it has launched 5G services in 20 German towns and cities. Vodafone Germany’s 5G service is already live in Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Dortmund, and Munich, among other cities. The service was expected to be activated in other cities including Berlin, Bremen, Dresden, Darmstadt, Leipzig, and Frankfurt during August.
Vodafone’s 5G network will cover 25 cities, 25 municipalities and 10 industrial parks across Germany by the end of 2019. It will reach 10 million users by the end of 2020, and 20 million by the end of 2021, the company said.
In Italy, Vodadone already offers the technology in Milan, Turin, Bologna, Rome and Naples. The company used equipment from Nokia and Huawei for the deployment of commercial 5G.
The telco said it expects to add around 45 to 50 cities to 5G coverage next year. Aldo Bisio, Vodafone Italy’s CEO had previously said that the telco’s 5G technology will reach more than 100 Italian cities by 2021.