First Vodafone 5G mobile towers go live in Auckland

Tv antenna with blue skies
Photo credit: Getty

Five new 5G mobile sites are now live in Auckland, in preparation for Vodafone launching its upgraded network in December.

The upgraded sites have been made live for network testing, with a further 95 sites also scheduled to be operational by the time 5G is switched on for the public in December.

The five new upgraded sites, which feature Nokia technology, including 5G-enabled antennas, are located in and around Mangere, in South Auckland.

According to Vodafone, the 5G network will enable 10-times faster speeds in 5G smartphones compared to 4G.

The first 100 sites to be upgraded will be located in high mobile-traffic areas, such as business districts, shopping malls, event centres and airports, Vodafone said.

"We want as many Kiwis as possible to access our 5G network when we switch it on, so we’re focusing our initial rollout on high-density urban areas in town centres," says Tony Baird, Vodafone NZ's technology director. "As part of the 5G testing, we are checking network connectivity and speeds – and we’re confident Kiwis will be impressed by the faster speeds and lower latency that 5G offers."

The mobile network will first roll out in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

As part of the upgrades, a further 400 4G mobile sites will also be upgraded to 4.5G.

While access to the upgraded network will initially be free for Vodafone customers, a premium will be charged by the company in the future.

Vodafone's competitor Spark also has plans to build infrastructure for a 5G network, though the Government spy agency recently stymied plans by the company to use cellphone tower equipment by Huawei. 

In assessing Spark's proposal to work with the Chinese company, the Government Communications Security Bureau identified major network security risks, due to Huawei's links with the Chinese Communist Party.

Huawei has also been banned from supplying 5G equipment in both Australia and the United States.