New Zealander’s are used to staying in the slow lane when it comes to data, mobile or otherwise, and are charged a premium price for the slow service.
However an initiative between New Zealand’s main telco; Spark and Huawei, will see improvements made in the mobile data sector, with the upcoming release of 4.5G.
With Spark announcing that Queenstown is the first town in New Zealand to receive 4.5G coverage and confirming plans it will roll out in another 10 towns in the next year, the promise of even faster nationwide mobile internet access will soon become reality. But to use the network, it is necessary to have a 4.5G capable handset, so consumers with certain models will need to upgrade to unlock all the benefits of 4.5G.
Huawei’s P10 Series, which launched in New Zealand in April 2017, was the world’s first smartphone to support many 4.5G features, and is also the world’s first to offer te reo Māori as a standard language option and a Leica front camera. Huawei’s previous P Series model, the P9, also support a limited amount of 4.5G capability, as do s other select smartphone makes and models.
4.5G is the next generation of mobile technology, capable of delivering more capacity and faster speeds, and giving people more connectivity options. 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, the Huawei P10 is an example of an advanced smartphone that supports a multitude of 4.5G capabilities, enabling users to benefit from 4.5G’s significantly increased speed compared to 4G.
New Zealand compares well internationally for its mobile internet access speeds, rating 18th in the most recent Akamai State of the Internet Report with a national average of 12Mbps across any device or network.
At present, the average 4G speed for mobile users in New Zealand is 36Mbs; when Spark trialed the first 4.5G mobile network in Christchurch last year, the specialised equipment reached a peak speed of up to 1.15gbps. At the June 20 launch of the commercially available 4.5G network in Queenstown, Spark said 4.5G can deliver up to three to five times faster speeds with compatible devices than those experienced on the regular 4G network.
“It is clear that the introduction of 4.5G will revolutionise how we use our mobile devices,” says Andrew Bowater, Head of Public Affairs at Huawei New Zealand. “But to take advantage of faster streaming, better and more reliable video calling and to use the latest augmented and virtual reality services powered by 4.5G depends on having an appropriately specified device.”
Huawei distinguishes itself by developing not only handsets like its market-leading P10 Series, but also developing and manufacturing the equipment used by telecoms operators like Spark to create mobile networks. Both the Christchurch trial and the new 4.5G network in Queenstown were built with Huawei equipment.
In addition to faster connectivity speeds, 4.5G technology also connects with lower latency – meaning less time is required for signals to move from the handset, through the network and to the receiving party. This is expected to drive innovation in the use of mobile technology in latency-sensitive applications such as driverless vehicles or tele-surgery.
4.5G is also seen as a promising solution to rapidly improve rural broadband access; it is expensive to extend fibre connectivity to outlying and sparsely-populated areas. Coverage from a faster mobile network, coupled with an appropriately-specified smartphone, can make affordable broadband a possibility for people in these areas.
“With the P10, we have combined the latest in technology with a sharp focus on aesthetic appeal to deliver the very best capabilities to our customers,” says Andrew Bowater. “That includes 4.5G connectivity, which makes it possible to shoot stunning pictures and video with the 20-megapixel Leica camera and immediately share it to social media over the fastest mobile technology available in the world.”
Currently, 4.5G is only available on the Spark network in select New Zealand areas, including Silverdale, Auckland, limited areas in Christchurch CBD, and a cluster of five cell sites in Queenstown. Spark has confirmed plans it will roll out 4.5G network in another 10 towns in New Zealand in the next year.