Vodafone New Zealand and Spark set up a joint venture to deliver priority services to an NZD1.4 billion ($845.1) Public Safety Network being built to improve mobile access for emergency services staff.

The Hourua venture received the contract to provide priority connectivity for the network, with work underway to commence operations from mid-2023.

Minister of Police Chris Hipkins stated the “infrastructure investment is significant” and will help keep emergency service personnel and the public “safe by giving them reliable and secure coverage”.

He added the move will deliver a “modern network to replace a critical communications system that’s getting past its best”.

Vodafone and Spark explained emergency communications on the highly secure network will be prioritised when networks are congested or degraded, by using LTE Quality of Service, Priority and Pre-emption network features.

Spark COO Mark Beder explained the network will offer coverage “beyond what is available on either of our networks alone and ensuring there is a fallback option if one network experiences disruption”.

Tony Baird, wholesale and infrastructure director at Vodafone, added the services provided will “increase mobile coverage”, maximise the reliability of services and expand the resources available during emergencies.