Spark New Zealand extended commercial 5G service to selected areas of five additional South Island towns and communities, using the 2600MHz band and equipment from Nokia.

The operator, which in late September turned on 5G service in Alexandra for a limited number of enterprise and consumer customers, said its network is now live in parts of Westport, Clyde, Twizel, Tekapo and Hokitika.

Spark introduced a flexible price plan, 5G Discover, which allows customers to pay less if they use less, starting at NZD75 ($48.18) up to a maximum NZD95 for 600GB of data per month.

Mark Beder, technology director, said many people are interested in wireless broadband as a service, but some are put off by the previous data caps. “The much higher data cap on 5G opens up an attractive proposition for more customers, as it can offer fibre-like speeds in places with no or limited fibre coverage.”

Last week, the operator announced it shifted to a multi-vendor strategy for its 5G radio access network and confirmed Nokia, Samsung and Huawei as preferred equipment suppliers.

Beder noted it would prefer to use C-band (3500MHz) as it believes this will be the primary spectrum band for mass deployment of 5G: “Acquiring enough C-band spectrum is an important requirement for all wireless network operators. As the spectrum is released we’ll be bringing more services, which we’ll roll out over time.”