Spark has today announced Palmerston North’s city centre as the first location in New Zealand to have access to 5G on both mobile and wireless broadband, with an additional four locations to follow before the end of year.
Spark’s 5G rollout is now proceeding with pace, following the Government’s recent allocation of 5G C-band spectrum. The national rollout of the next generation of mobile technology is predicted to add between $5.7 billion and $8.9 billion per year to the New Zealand economy over the next 10 years – including $135 million to the local Palmerston North economy.
Spark CEO Jolie Hodson said this is a major milestone in what will be a long-term and significant investment in 5G infrastructure across the country, which will play a critical role in improving New Zealand’sproductivity and supporting the country’s economic recovery from Covid-19.“We believe in the potential of 5G technology to solve some of our country’s greatest challenges and never has this been more critical as we adapt to new ways of working, learning and connecting as a country.
“We’ve already seen first-hand how businesses have used technology to innovate and adapt to our ‘new normal.’ Teachers took their lessons online; global sporting events went virtual and supermarkets created the ability to manage social distancing with online queues. As a nation of innovators, imagine what could be achieved, what solutions these businesses could create to move our country forward with the power of 5G.”
Spark has already started working with Toyota New Zealand to untap the value of 5G in Palmerston North. Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager for Business Technology, Andrew Davis, said 5G provides Toyota with the opportunity to further explore innovative customer experiences, while also helping them deliver on their net carbon reduction targets by minimising the need to transport cars around the country through solutions like virtual test drives.
“Customers are faced with so many options when buying a new car, so research is a really important part of their buying experience. At this stage we are testing the capability to have 360-degree live stream cameras on and around a car so that customers can see and talk to a car expert, be immersed in the details of the car and be taken for a test drive through their mobile phone, all from the comfort of their own home.”
“Over the next few months we will be working with Spark to see how we can use the faster speeds and low latency that 5G provides to build a fully immersive virtual reality experience. We have 52 retail outlets around the country and with our wide product range we are not able to have every model available in every store for customers to view in person. What we’re working towards is the ability for customers to be able to go to their local Toyota Store, put on a pair of VR goggles and see a full-size personalised car drive into their vision, inspect it at every angle and even virtually test drive it in a variety of different landscapes.”
Palmerston North City Council Chief Customer Officer, Chris Dyhrberg, said it is great to see investment in critical infrastructure in Palmerston North, which will be an important enabler of local businesses and connectivity for all residents.
“5G is a critical step forward not only for New Zealand, but also for our hometown of Palmerston North. Our aspiration is to be a city that drives and supports innovation and entrepreneurship and 5G is an enabler of this – providing significantly faster speeds and considerably more capacity than previous generations of mobile technology. The 5G roll out in Palmerston North is a perfect example of how we provide and support smart technology that further cements Palmerston North as a smart city now and into the future”.
Palmerston North residents who are Spark customers and have a 5G enabled mobile phone will have free access to 5G speeds no matter what plan they are on until at least July 2021. Those who want to experience 5G speeds at home can sign up for Spark’s Discover 5G Wireless Broadband Plan.
To help educate and inspire local businesses to explore new avenues for growth and development using 5G, Spark will be hosting a free business event through the Manuwatu Chamber of Commerce on 7 August.
In addition, the local Spark Store will be holding an event on Wednesday 29th at 12.00pm, where customers can come along to experience the benefits of 5G first-hand and have the chance to win two 5G phones valued at more than $1,800 and $5,000 cash.
 NERA Economic Consulting 2020