Spark New Zealand detailed plans to deploy a network of satellite-connected towers across the country to ensure nationwide mobile connectivity during emergencies when its fibre backhaul is out of service. 

The plan was unveiled after the operator and Lynk Global sent the first text message through satellite from a standard mobile phone positioned in a blackspot in Auckland, Spark stated.

Trials are scheduled to begin soon.   

The nationwide network of satellite-connected towers will start with the deployment of temporary sites in five regions by the year-end. Spark said it aims to expand the footprint in the future.    

Spark network and operations director Renee Mateparae noted in addition to delivering satellite connectivity to mobile phones, the company is looking at “backhaul solutions, which are becoming more widely available”, substituting fibre temporarily to allow for basic connectivity.

Mateparae added its longer-term ambition is to enable permanent towers to automatically switch to satellite backhaul if required.

Spark teamed with Lynk Global to trial a satellite-to-mobile service in June.

Rival 2degrees also is working with Lynk Global to launch satellite-to-phone service in rural areas, while One New Zealand has an agreement with Starlink.