A day after being acquired by Infratil and Brookfield, Vodafone NZ has announced plans to launch 5G services in December in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
Vodafone NZ CEO Jason Paris said businesses and public organisations were expected to be the early adopters, naming NZ Police, BNZ, Auckland’s Rescue Helicopter and Waste Management as the first four organisations that had “agreed to work with us and our partners Nokia, Microsoft, and IBM, to begin to scope their 5G future.”
He said Vodafone was already working with these organisations “to understand how the power of 5G can improve the lives of New Zealanders.”
He also foreshadowed a role for 5G in delivering fixed broadband services, saying: “5G is also ideally suited for delivering fixed wireless broadband. This will be a great broadband solution for many more New Zealand customers than was previously possible, and will complement our ongoing investment in 4G, IoT and fixed network technologies.”
(In Australia this week, the CEO of Telstra Andy Penn — in an address to the National Press Club — warned that 5G had the potential to undermine Australia’s fixed broadband network, the NBN. "A number of operators today are already very publicly considering strategies to compete directly with NBN using 5G,” he said.)
Paris also foreshadowed an announcement of a forthcoming customer service initiative that he said: “will make a significant difference to the delivery of more consistent customer service for everyone,” adding “We know we aren’t where we need to be on this.”
Vodafone has set up a website to promote the benefits of 5G, where it claims “Life is about to become smarter, safer, more efficient, more reliable than ever; in ways most of us can’t even imagine.”
It gives no indication of when services will be expanded beyond the initial locations.
The Vodafone 5G network will operate initially at 3.5GHz and in non-standalone mode, which means it will use the 4G network for control functions.
Vodafone said this was how 5G had been rolled out in “other world leading markets.” However, according to Wikipedia some operators and vendors have criticised using non-standalone mode saying it could hinder the implementation of the standalone mode of the network, which uses the new 5G packet core architecture instead of relying on the 4G evolved packet core, allowing the deployment of 5G without the LTE network.
Standalone 5G is expected to have lower cost, better efficiency, and assist development of new use cases.