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Spark, New Zealand’s largest telecom provider, announced that Cromwell, a town in the South Island, has become the latest site in the country capable of getting the fastest mobile data, as 4.5G switched on in the Otago region. The Cromwell launch follows nine other 4.5G sites in New Zealand, making a total of 10 sites, with more on the horizon.

4.5G is the next-generation of mobile technology capable of delivering more capacity and faster speeds, and giving people more connectivity options. The Cromwell launch in New Zealand follows other single-tower deployments covering limited areas in the Christchurch city center, along with the activation of a cluster of five towers in Queenstown.

The upgrade puts the Spark network slightly ahead of devices, with no commercially available modems or phones supporting the entire range and combination of 4.5G features at the moment. However, most new high-end phones support many 4.5G features, with the potential to propel their speeds to between three and five times faster than 4G.

“4.5G is an important part of our strategy because it helps us prepare for a 5G future today, keeping up with the changes in the ways people will use wireless technology over the next few years,” said Spark’s General manager of Networks, Colin Brown, adding that the deployment is a stepping stone to 5G.

“Because 4.5G combines a range of radio spectrum and uses it efficiently, we can provide more capacity and speed to our customers, allowing them to do more,” Brown added.

Spark says it’s committed to providing important connectivity infrastructure that New Zealand needs to compete in the new digital economy, and intends to continue to deliver more 4.5G around the country with the delivery of 10 towns around New Zealand in the next 12 months.