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Vodafone New Zealand signs 5G network deal with Nokia

5G will be launched in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown later this year.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

After a series of demos, Vodafone New Zealand has signed Nokia as its official partner to help the telco company roll out the first commercial 5G network to New Zealanders.

Under the deal, Nokia will supply and integrate a 5G network for Vodafone NZ, which includes Nokia AirScale radio access solution, as well as cloud-native core and design services.

The 5G network is scheduled for launch in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown later this year. 

"We are excited to be working with Nokia to deliver a commercial 5G network for Vodafone and New Zealand, building on our proud heritage of being first to deliver to Kiwis, the best mobile technology available at the time, including 2G, 3G, 4G and now 5G," Vodafone NZ technology director Tony Baird said.

The two companies had previously showcased use cases and implementations during 5G trials in Auckland

Read more: Why the road to 5G might be longer than expected (TechRepublic)

The companies trialled a 5G connection at Vodafone NZ's Innov8 Auckland headquarters across the millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum band, with then-Vodafone NZ CEO Russell Stanners at the time saying they would next experiment with 5G across 3.5GHz spectrum.

Nokia provided its AirScale and Airframe platforms for the 5G trial, with the system connected to a device using third-party chipsets.

Towards the end of last year, Vodafone NZ partnered with Ciena to upgrade its mobile network to enable support across 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), and ultra high-definition video.

By adding programmable capabilities to its network, Vodafone NZ said it would be able to better support enterprise customers, which are now able to use a digital user interface to request additional capacity across the network.

Vodafone NZ is also working to deploy a narrowband IoT network across New Zealand after trialling the technology with Nokia back in 2016.

Vodafone NZ was sold in May to NZ-based infrastructure investment company Infratil and Canada-headquartered Brookfield Asset Management in a deal costing the two buyers a total of NZ$3.4 billion.

Vodafone NZ's newly minted CEO Jason Paris, who joined last November from fellow NZ telco Spark, said at the time that the acquisition was a great outcome for consumers and businesses and marked a "new era" for the company.

"It's the absolute best of both worlds for customers. We've got the backing of two new world class and long-term investors plus we can continue to tap into Vodafone's global expertise, including all the services our customers value such as global roaming, global procurement, and the world's largest internet of things platform," Paris said. 

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