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New Zealand’s largest telecom provider, Spark, has switched on the Pacific country’s first live 5G mobile test site in the capital city Wellington, with Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Hon. Clare Curran, becoming the first member of the public to run a 5G speed test achieving speeds of over 9Gbps.

This speed is more than nine times faster than the maximum speeds available to consumers with residential fixed line fibre today, and 90 times faster than today’s most prevalent UFB 100 mbps service, Spark said in a statement. 5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology and can be up to 100 times faster than 4G. It uses new bands of radio spectrum with super-fast response times, allowing a full-length movie to download in just a few seconds.

The trial, located on the Stout Street Exchange Building, was deployed with specialist equipment and technical support from technology partner Huawei and is located directly across from Parliament. It will test speeds, coverage and the parameters of the spectrum in a real-world environment.

The trial will be live throughout the month of March and connects with equipment in a specialized vehicle drive-testing the streets of Wellington city center. Testing is being executed as device and equipment manufacturers work towards delivering 5G capable devices in market by late 2018.

“Spark is very excited to be leading the 5G race with this trial, and we intend to be at the forefront of deploying this technology in New Zealand once the required spectrum is made available,” said Spark’s managing director, Simon Moutter. “We want to be ahead of the pack in preparing for it, testing it and deploying it, and we want to be the partner of choice for all of those New Zealand businesses who are starting to think about its uses in their industry.”

Moutter said the company has “fast-tracked our plans and is committed to creating a 5G Lab in Auckland [New Zealand’s largest city] later this year, where customers can work with us to truly understand how 5G will change their lives and businesses.”

“Many people have now heard of concepts like self-driving cars, smart cities, virtual and augmented reality. Unleashing the full potential of these concepts will require a fast wireless network with a super-fast response time,” Moutter added.

“5G will deliver significantly faster speeds and more capacity than previous mobile technology and will support the connectivity of multiple devices with very low response times. It will take us from a world of connecting people to each other and the internet to a world of connecting almost everything.” 

He adds, “While 5G is expected to transform the way we live, work and play in New Zealand, by unleashing significantly more capacity, it will allow us to extend our unlimited data plans for both mobile and wireless broadband—which is a great benefit for our customers.” 

Huawei New Zealand Managing Director, Yanek Fan said, “Huawei is proud to partner with Spark on another first for New Zealand by trialling 5G. We have been a strategic partner of Spark since 2013 delivering its 4G mobile network, the world’s first deployment of 700mHz spectrum in mobile and most recently Spark’s expansion into 4.5G and smart stadium projects.” 

 “At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Huawei announced two world firsts for 5G: a complete end-to-end 5G commercially ready solution and the world’s first commercially available 5G Chipset for a customer device,” Fan added. “I am excited by the potential for 5G in New Zealand and our intention is to work with local partners to accelerate the 5G ecosystem to enable new experiences, economies and opportunities.”