Town first off rank with 4.5G network

 Spark chief operating officer Mark Beder (left) and its South Island head Paul Deavoll in...
Spark chief operating officer Mark Beder (left) and its South Island head Paul Deavoll in Queenstown yesterday to announce the launch of a 4.5G mobile network in the resort. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
Queenstown has become the first town in New Zealand to get a 4.5G mobile data network.

Launched by Spark today, it is expected to deliver speeds for new, high-spec phones up to five times faster than those using the existing 4G network.

Spark chief operating officer Mark Beder said the upgrade put the network ahead of most mobile devices.

But most new high-end phones supported many 4.5G features, enabling ``fibre-like'' speeds.

``There is now a network that is probably ahead of a lot of those devices at the moment.

``Now it's about getting ready and finding out what you can do with it.''

Covering the central business district, Frankton, Arrowtown and some areas in between, the upgrade would also improve speeds for all Spark mobile users, and allow residents with low to moderate data usage to consider wireless broadband as an alternative to fixed-line services.

Mr Beder said the technology would also give the resort's businesses, particularly tourist operators, the opportunity to develop new products, such as live streaming of adventure experiences to customers' friends and families.

Until now, 4.5G had been deployed only from single towers in the Christchurch CBD and Auckland's Silverdale.

The resort had been chosen as the first town to get a 4.5G network because of its rapidly growing population and visitor numbers, and its high data use.

A mobile tower on Peninsula Hill was among its top 10 busiest sites in the country, with about half of the data used for video streaming.

The company was dealing with ``insatiable'' demand for mobile data across the country, he said.

``A lot of what we do in the data world is just keeping up.''

The Queenstown launch was a step towards 5G, which was likely to become commercially available in New Zealand in the early 2020s.

Spark would roll out the technology to 10 more towns in the next 12 months.


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