Spark today announced that 100,000 customers are now on Wireless Broadband and the company will trial a ‘portable’ option over summer to allow customers to use their home broadband on holiday.
Customers on the trial will simply unplug their modem at home and plug in at their New Zealand holiday destination – allowing them to use their home broadband on holiday.
Clive Ormerod, GM of Customer and Marketing for Spark Home Mobile and Business said Spark had been amazed by the success of wireless broadband with “15% of Spark and Skinny broadband customers now on wireless broadband in just over a year – an awesome growth story for a newcomer product”.
Spark is the first major New Zealand telecommunications provider to trial portable wireless broadband. Ormerod said the trial, with 100 existing wireless broadband customers nationwide, would help assess demand for a portable product that could be used in more than one location in the future.
Although wireless broadband runs off the mobile network, a wireless broadband modem is ‘geo-locked’ so that it only provides service at one location. However, Ormerod says that, right from launch, customers and commentators asked if Spark would unlock modems to make wireless broadband portable.
“What we’ve already seen is that there is a significant appetite for this service. We had many more applications from customers wanting to be on the trial than we expected.”
Over the peak summer period, thousands of Kiwis leave the major cities and towns to enjoy time off at a rental, a bach or a campground. For instance, last summer, Spark network data showed that nearly a quarter (23%) of Aucklanders left the city in the days following Christmas.
For wireless broadband customers Toni and Paul Cooney, being on the trial means they can search recipes, read the paper, check the bank balance and Skype their daughter overseas from their Orewa beach house using their wireless broadband from home instead of phone data.
“We just packed it up in Auckland and plugged it in here and we were online within a couple of minutes. We haven’t had broadband at the beach before and we’ve always felt disconnected or worried about using too much data on our phones,” said Toni Cooney.
The couple say they wanted to be on the trial because they’ve been thinking about the best way to stay online when they’re at their holiday home on the weekends.
Ormerod says wireless broadband customers say they love the ease and simplicity of fast and reliable wireless broadband – and have a better experience than on their old copper line.*
“Today, we’re in a position where we can trial portable wireless broadband as one of the future evolutions of this service. This is possible today because of our continuing investment in increasing 4G network capacity, and in expanding 4.5G service across the country as part of our pathway to 5G.”
“Our significant investment in the Spark mobile network is allowing us to fundamentally change the services we offer over it. In the last year alone, we’ve added many thousands of wireless broadband customers to the network and launched our Unlimited mobile plan with some amazing take up from customers. This trial of portable wireless broadband is the next step – we’re excited to see where it will take us.”
Ormerod said Spark hitting the 100,000 wireless customer milestone also shows the momentum behind Spark’s Upgrade New Zealand programme, with over 43% of Spark customers now on new generation broadband technologies (fibre and wireless broadband), up from 37% at the end of June.
Notes to the editor:
What is wireless broadband?
Wireless broadband is fast, reliable broadband delivered over Spark’s 4G mobile network. Wireless broadband delivers access to the Internet via a wireless signal to the nearest 4G cell tower, instead of via a copper line or fibre cable into the home. If a customer lives in a house with a good quality 4G signal, they simply plug the wireless broadband modem into a power socket, and the modem will then automatically connect to the cell tower. There’s no need for a technician to come into the customer’s home, or to install any physical cables.
Currently wireless broadband modems are geo-locked to a single location, meaning they can only be used in one place. As wireless broadband modems tend to use a lot more data than a mobile device, this makes the demands on the network more predictable, allowing Spark to provide a great experience for all mobile and wireless broadband customers. However, the 100 customers on the trial will be able to use their modem in two locations – at home and at their designated holiday address. The trial will run nationwide from 20 December to 31 January 2018 to enable Spark to test the service in a range of holiday hotspots.
The Spark 4G mobile network now covers nearly 95% of where New Zealanders live and work, and 4.5G is now available in 21 locations around New Zealand. Spark is continuing to roll out 4.5G around the country.
Wireless broadband is currently available from Spark on 60GB and 120GB plans: https://www.spark.co.nz/shop/internet/wirelessbroadband/ and Skinny on 40GB and 100GB plans: https://www.skinny.co.nz/broadband/.
*Spark customer satisfaction research, July 2017
Customers in the trial will receive a custom-made modem travel case and modem decal featuring an original design by New Zealand artist, Kate Hursthouse. http://www.katehursthouse.com