Spark New Zealand announced it shifted to a multi-vendor strategy for its 5G radio access network (RAN) and confirmed Nokia, Samsung and Huawei as preferred equipment suppliers.

Rajesh Singh, Spark’s GM of value management, said the company withdrew its original Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Act (TICSA) application, which proposed a single-vendor 5G RAN strategy, adding the company will work through the TICSA approval process with its other RAN vendors.

The operator obtained approval from the government to use Nokia’s 5G RAN equipment for its deployment in Alexandra and additional launches in five locations before Christmas.

It will also continue to use Cisco and Ericsson for separate elements of its existing network core, which has already been upgraded to ensure it is non-standalone (NSA) 5G capable, it said.

Singh added: “We’ve consistently said our approach to 5G will be multi-vendor. A key reason for this is that 5G technology is still emerging and is likely to develop significantly in the next few years, so a mix of vendors makes sense.”

Next phase
The operator, the second largest operator in the country by subscribers, also outlined the next phases of its 5G launch, committing to rolling out a broader range of 5G services into major centres from mid-2020, subject to spectrum being made available.

Mark Beder, technology director at Spark, said: “Our 5G roll out approach is twofold. Firstly, we are advancing our network delivery plans so we can roll out quickly in major centres once the necessary spectrum becomes available. Secondly, we’re innovating by repurposing some of our existing spectrum to deliver 5G wireless broadband in places where it will make a real difference to customers.”

In late September the operator turned on 5G service in Alexandra for a limited number of enterprise and consumer customers, with plans to expand the network to an additional five towns by the year-end and other locations in early 2020.

Earlier this month, the operator started a 5G trial with the Emirates Team New Zealand sailing team, which it said was an extension of its interactive 5G test lab which opened in November 2018 in Wynyard Quarter in downtown Auckland.