Spark NZ launches government-level enterprise managed security services

Spark has extended its New Zealand government TaaS managed security services offering out to businesses, including firewall, internet, remote access, and incident response as a service.

New Zealand carrier Spark has announced the launch of managed security services for business, which it said are based on the same model being used by the New Zealand government's telecommunications-as-a-service (TaaS) panel.

The series of services now on offer to businesses include secure internet, secure managed firewall, secure messaging, secure application publishing, and remote access, along with security management services such as security incident, event management, and incident response as a service.

According to Spark Security head Josh Bahlman, the offering was designed to provide enterprise with the same services it supplies to government departments and agencies.

"Cyber threat is a top concern for Kiwi enterprises -- expanding our offering provides businesses with the best possible defence in-depth model," Bahlman said.

"With over 100 security professionals whose focus is 100 percent security, a strong investment in new security technologies, and the only commercial New Zealand member of FIRST [Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams], Spark can provide extensive access to global threat intelligence sources."

As part of the TaaS panel, Spark provides the NZ government with secure internet, application consumption, application publishing, third-party connectivity, remote access, device security, legacy gateway, CASB, secure email, and security management services under the Managed Security Tower.

The New Zealand government's TaaS portfolio is divided into five "towers": Communications; connectivity; managed security; and aggregation, which includes specialist telco aggregation and service management.

Spark NZ has also recently launched its Internet of Things (IoT) offering for business and government, switching on its LoRaWAN IoT network in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Shannon, Blenheim, Nelson, and Dunedin last month.

It will additionally provide coverage to Queenstown, Whangarei, Pukekohe, Gisborne, Napier, Taupo, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Timaru, Hastings, and Invercargill by June 2018.

The network consists of gateways and antennas installed atop Spark NZ's 4G cell sites, with the telco using Actility's ThingPark Wireless platform, Kerlink's gateways, and Kordia to build and maintain the network.

"Our IoT capability is really gathering pace, and now we've got this critical mass of coverage we're able to make the network commercially available," Spark GM of IoT Solutions Michael Stribling said last month.

"While we currently have 60 percent of rural and urban New Zealand covered, we'll be working to extend that to 70 percent by July this year. We're also looking to partner with organisations to extend coverage into areas where they need it."

Spark's financial report for the first half of FY18 revealed that it is also continuing to trial its Cat-M1 IoT network.

For the half year, Spark announced total operating revenue of NZ$1.8 billion, up 1.6 percent. Net earnings were down by 3.4 percent to NZ$172 million and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) were NZ$463 million, down 1.7 percent due to Spark's current transformation program.

During the six-month period, Spark spent NZ$64 million on IT systems, including expanding its TaaS offerings for government.

Rival provider Vodafone NZ last month also announced adding more managed security offerings to the New Zealand government's TaaS panel, along with a new fixed connectivity service labelled Sector Variant.

Vodafone had been originally appointed to the government's TaaS panel back in 2015 to provide services under all five towers. More than 240 government agencies are now involved in the TaaS program, with the government's chief digital officer at the Department of Internal Affairs overseeing the program.

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