Spark and Vodafone have today announced the establishment of Hourua – a new joint venture that will provide priority cellular services to the Public Safety Network, which is being established by
Next Generation Critical Communications, Poutama Whai Tikanga Pāpāho.
The Public Safety Network is the new communications service that will be used by New Zealand's frontline emergency responders, including Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Police, St John, and
Wellington Free Ambulance.
Chris Hipkins, Minister of Police, says, “This infrastructure investment is significant and is what New Zealand’s frontline workers deserve. It will help keep them and the public safe by giving
them reliable and secure coverage in urban, state highway and rural areas.
“New Zealand’s emergency services have done an incredible job in often very challenging circumstances. The new network will give them a modern network to replace a critical communications system that’s getting past its best.”
The name Hourua can be translated as a double waka and has been chosen to represent Spark and Vodafone binding or lashing their wakas together – joining capabilities to deliver this critical service to New Zealanders. By bringing together new capabilities across their two respective mobile networks, Hourua will allow emergency services teams to roam across the Spark and Vodafone mobile networks, to improve redundancy in the event of network impacts.
Communications over the Public Safety Network will be highly secure and highly resilient – emergency communications will take priority over other mobile users when networks are congested or degraded, through the use of LTE Quality of Service, Priority and Pre-emption (QPP) network features. This will ensure that emergency responders are able to keep in touch on the phone as well as using apps that are required to deliver their roles effectively.
Priority cellular services will complement a new digital Land Mobile Radio network as the other key element of the Public Safety Network, which is being delivered by another vendor.
Mark Beder, Chief Operating Officer for Spark New Zealand, explains, “In a moment of crisis, we all want to know that our emergency responders are well equipped to keep New Zealanders safe – and
reliable, far reaching, and secure communications tools are vital to them being able to perform their jobs effectively.
“The new Public Safety Network will support this, with the roaming solution that has been created increasing coverage beyond what is available on either of our networks alone and ensuring
there is a fallback option if one network experiences disruption.”
Tony Baird, Wholesale and Infrastructure Director, Vodafone New Zealand, comments, “It is in both Vodafone and Spark’s DNA to push the boundaries of what’s technically possible to solve real world
challenges. We’re proud that the Hourua joint venture will bring together the best of Spark and Vodafone’s mobile network capabilities to support the Public Safety Network with priority cellular services, increasing their mobile coverage, maximizing the reliability of services and being on hand to provide increased resources where required in an emergency situation.”
With Hourua now contracted as the provider of priority cellular services for the Public Safety Network, work is underway to commence the network build required to turn on priority cellular services from mid-2023 onwards.