Telecommunications and digital services company Spark New Zealand (ASX:SPK) has signed an agreement with the Crown for the allocation of C-band mobile spectrum under a new model and to accelerate mobile network upgrades to benefit provincial and rural New Zealand.
The company says under the terms of the agreement it will receive long-term spectrum management rights to 80 MHz of 3.5GHz (or C-band) spectrum from 1 July 2023, which is expected to be used in Spark’s ongoing roll out of 5G services.
Spark reports in return it will invest in extending rural connectivity and 5G services to provincial New Zealand through the Rural Connectivity Group, as well as an acceleration of its own 5G rollout.
“We want to support the creation of high-tech solutions that improve productivity, efficiency, and sustainability across our economy, and the rollout of 5G is a critical enabler of this”
Additionally, the company notes it will invest an additional $24 million in funding to the Rural Connectivity Group between 2023 and 2025, with funds expected to be utilised to support the expansion of mobile phone coverage into rural New Zealand and address mobile black spots on state highways.
The company also notes it has committed to accelerating deployment of its 5G network to 27 sites in 25 regional towns using the allocated C-band spectrum that it would not otherwise have built under its existing commercial deployment plans.
Speaking on the agreement, Spark Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jolie Hodson said: “When you consider the challenges we are facing as a country, there is an important role for technology to play in helping us do things differently. We want to support the creation of high-tech solutions that improve productivity, efficiency, and sustainability across our economy, and the rollout of 5G is a critical enabler of this. In addition, to our investment in spectrum, we are committing $40-$60 million to the development of 5G Standalone over the next three years, which will unlock news services and support business innovation in New Zealand.
We are also pleased to see spectrum allocation revenue directly invested into connectivity in provincial and rural New Zealand. When we combine the commitment we have made through this spectrum agreement with our broader 5G rollout plans, our ambition is to expand 5G connectivity to all towns with a population of more than 1,500 people by the end of June 2026. We are really pleased to finalise this agreement with Government, which provides us with the certainty we need to continue investing in 5G and delivering these connectivity benefits to Aotearoa New Zealand.”
Spark is an ASX-listed company that represents New Zealand’s largest telecommunications and digital services company which has a purpose to help all of New Zealand win big in a digital world. The company provides mobile, broadband, and digital services to millions of New Zealanders and thousands of New Zealand businesses.