Telecom New Zealand has announced that it will begin trials of long term evolution (LTE) technology with Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent in Wellington and Auckland from today.
The company announced yesterday that there will be a trial of 4G in the 2.6GHz spectrum band with Huawei in the North Shore, Auckland, while Alcatel-Lucent will run a trial in Lower Hutt, Wellington, on the same spectrum band.
In Hawke's Bay, Alcatel-Lucent will also conduct a trial of LTE in the 700MHz spectrum, and in Rotorua, Huawei will trial LTE in the 1800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands.
The trial will run until mid-February and is designed to cover a variety of different areas across New Zealand, from industrial, to residential, to motorways. Telecom New Zealand said that the company will be testing how the network copes in a variety of scenarios and traffic loads.
Between February and March, Telecom NZ will then bring on trial customers, ahead of a full launch of the 4G network in late 2013 or early 2014.
Until then, it is continuing its roll-out of dual-carrier HSPA+ technology — which is referred to as "3G Plus" by Optus and Vodafone in Australia. It currently reaches 30 percent of the New Zealand population, but Telecom New Zealand plans to get this to 50 percent in early 2013.
Telecom New Zealand's General Manager for Mobile Products Ed Hyde said that building the 4G network was about preparing for the future.
"The communications and technology services a 4G LTE network will deliver can, and will, change lives. Whether it is by giving health professionals enhanced access to real-time, high-quality video communication with patients in their homes, or dramatically increasing the productivity of businesses with a mobile workforce, Telecom believes this network will be crucial for New Zealand's future," he said in a statement.
Similar to Australia, New Zealand is currently going through the process of switching over to digital television to free up spectrum in the 700MHz, which will be auctioned off to telcos by the New Zealand government. As with Australia, that auction was supposed to take place this year, but has now been delayed until next year.
Unlike the Australian delay, which has mostly been to ensure that the government meets the expected AU$4 billion in revenue it wants from the auction, New Zealand's delays have been partially blamed on a claim of ownership of the spectrum by Maori groups.
Telecom New Zealand has significant 1800MHz spectrum holdings, but has previously indicated that it would prefer to roll out 4G services in 700MHz, unlike Optus and Telstra in Australia, as both have services in the 1800MHz spectrum band.