Spark, One New Zealand and 2degrees forged deals with the New Zealand government to receive a direct allocation of 3.5GHz spectrum in exchange for investing in network upgrades in provincial and rural areas.

Under a new model, each operator will be allocated 80MHz in the C-Band after agreeing to invest NZD24 million ($14.9 million) to extend bucolic connectivity via the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) and speed 5G rollouts in provincial areas.

Spark committed to deploying 27 5G sites in 25 towns: CEO Jolie Hodson explained the deal provides it “the certainty we need to continue investing in 5G”.

The operator is due to gain access to the C-Band spectrum from 1 July,

Hodson said Spark aims to expand 5G connectivity to all towns with a population of more than 1,500 people by the end-June 2026.

Mark Callander, 2degrees CEO, separately stated equal spectrum allocations between mobile operators will help ensure continued competition.

“The government has taken a progressive, measured and pragmatic approach, allocating spectrum in return for investment into rural connectivity and a clear infrastructure build programme”, he expects to benefit rural communities, and domestic and international travellers.