Alexandra to be NZ's first test bed for Spark 5G

Five households and businesses in Alexandra have been invited by Spark NZ to experience high-speed wireless broadband delivered by 5G for the first time in New Zealand.

Spark Technology Change Lead Colin Brown said Spark chose Alexandra to trial the new technology because it had one of the highest uptakes of wireless broadband product anywhere in the country.

Alexandra was also where Xerra Earth Observation Institute was based, and it used big data analytics from satellites.

Spark Xerra CEO Steve Cotter described 5G as a ''game changer''.

''One of our biggest challenges to grow as a regional start-up has been, since day one, poor connectivity.

''We work with large data sets and it used to take us up to four hours to download one image but with 5G we can do it in a matter of minutes.

''This is the kind of connectivity required to run a world-class science research institute in regional New Zealand,'' Mr Cotter said.

The five households and businesses will be offered a free modem with a 5G connection, free installation, free broadband for the trial period and technical support.

Mr Brown said there was always a bit of ''fine tuning'' when a new technology was deployed ''so doing it in a real-life town with real-life customers was one of the best ways for us to bed it down.''

Spark is working with the chosen five, either in their offices or in their homes, talking to them about their experiences of 5G, and to see whether or not it was providing the capacity, the speed and the performance they needed.

The company would take whatever it learned from Alexandra and apply it to five other heartland towns where it intended to deploy 5G broadband before Christmas.

Other locations would follow early next year.

Mr Brown said Spark would soon be naming the five households and businesses in Alexandra but the names of the five other regional towns would remain a ''surprise'' until just before Christmas.

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