Spark, Samsung bring 5G to central Christchurch

Spark has activated 5G in central Christchurch, making it the sixth New Zealand city to get the latest speedy wireless technology from the telco giant.

The South Island's biggest city joins Auckland, Dunedin, Palmerston North, New Plymouth and Te Awamutu in having access to Spark 5G on both mobile and wireless broadband.

The Christchurch 5G network is the first in New Zealand to be built by Samsung.

"5G's the next evolution in technology, but it's not until you really understand what people can do with it or what will be different as a result of it," Spark's Renee Mateparae told Newshub.

"There are some pretty cool things that we are starting to see happening with it overseas."

The technology promises much faster download speeds, which means higher quality streaming of audio and video along with an enhanced ability to use interactive technology such as augmented reality. 

Spark has previously deployed 5G with Nokia, but opted to partner with Samsung for Christchurch.

"Both have got their different strengths and so it gives us a really good level of flexibility around how we build the best network for New Zealand because we deploy the right equipment in the right locations," said Mateparae.

Samsung Electronics New Zealand head of networks Todd Selwyn said its 5G technology is "world-class".

"We're bringing a lot of new learnings and a lot of new skills to the New Zealand market, so that's really cool because it means we're helping advance New Zealand's brainpower in terms of the skills, especially in that engineering space," he told Newshub.

Selwyn added that switching on the 5G network in Christchurch also frees up capacity on the 4G and other mobile networks, which means people can expect less disruptions at crowded events like concerts and sports matches.

Samsung's deployment of 5G includes the company's Massive MIMO radio units which are mounted on cell towers. These are said to have a slim, space-saving design and can deliver improved capacity.

Spark has progressively been rolling out its 5G services and says more cities will follow after Christchurch.