Mobile 5G broadband went live on Monday, and 2degrees confirms they’re working on fixed 5G broadband too, writes PAT PILCHER.
On Monday 2degrees opened up its 5G mobile network to supported 5G devices so its subscribers could enjoy some blistering fast 5G goodness. In Wellington’s CBD, I managed to get a super speedy 576 Mbps according to Ookla’s Speed-test app using a Huawei Mate XS smartphone.
We caught up with Martin Sharrock, 2degrees Chief Technology officer to find out what makes their 5G offering tick.
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Witchdoctor: What sort of speeds can 2degrees 5G users typically expect?
Martin Sharrock: We have regularly observed speeds on the network of over 500Mbps. Speeds for each customer will depend on many factors including which device they are using and where they are located in relation to the nearest site.
WD: I managed to get 576 Mbps, which is pretty impressive! What areas have 2degrees 5G coverage at the moment?
MS: At the moment, our 5G coverage spans central areas of Auckland and Wellington as well as some initial sites in Christchurch at the airport and the university. Our coverage map goes into more detail and will continually be updated as more sites are live.
WD: When will 5G be expanded out to cover 2degrees’ existing 4G footprint?
MS: We have plans for hundreds of 5G sites across the country by the end of 2024. We want as many Kiwis to have access to and to take advantage of 2degrees 5G as possible.
Each site that is enabled with 5G will also receive an upgrade of 3G and 4G. The sites will then have new, innovative Ericsson equipment for all technologies. This will allow 2degrees to flexibly adapt how 5G is used in each cell as demand grows. Each site we upgrade to enable 5G will also on average have double the 4G capacity than before.
We are building our 5G network contiguously, which means that we’ll be expanding our coverage areas from where they started in the Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch central areas. This is so customers will have a consistent experience on the network across whole cities over time, rather than moving in and out of 3G/4G and 5G. We started our network in New Zealand’s most populated cities, and we’re continuing to invest in growing the network from there.
MS: We are working hard behind the scenes on a 5G wireless broadband offering. We have devices under testing right now. We’ll be sure to let you know when this is available.
WD: Will 2degrees build out millimetre wave 5G sites too for even faster performance?
MS: Millimetre-wave spectrum is not currently available to operators in New Zealand for commercial use. 2degrees will test millimetre wave solutions in the near future. Millimetre-wave has been used globally by many operators and will be important for when large amounts of additional capacity is required in New Zealand, especially for our largest urban areas.
WD: What about low band 5G for even greater 5G coverage?
MS: The solution 2degrees is deploying from Ericsson allows us to turn on 5G in any of the available low and mid-frequency bands. We will be able to flexibly and dynamically adapt our spectrum to use more or less 5G at each band as devices supporting it become more common.
WD: What devices support 5G currently?
MS: At the moment we have three devices that are 2degrees 5G enabled:
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3
Oppo Find X3 Pro
Our team are in the lab testing plenty of other devices and we will have more enabled over the coming weeks. This will include more Samsung and Oppo devices, as well as 5G capable iPhones.
WD: Will users from other networks need to do anything to enable their phones to support 5G if they move across to 2degrees?
MS: If you move your connection and your phone to 2degrees and the model is 2degrees 5G enabled, it will most likely work with 2degrees 5G immediately. A software upgrade on your phone may be required.
WD: Given the massive boost in mobile data throughput, will mobile plans be tweaked to reflect increased data usage?
MS: Not at this stage. We are looking forward to our customers experiencing 5G without additional costs.
WD: What are some of the future applications 2degrees sees for 5G?
MS: 2degrees is continuing to invest to enhance our world-class network. This is the start of a new journey for 2degrees and our customers. 5G is more efficient, more flexible, provides much more capacity and is much faster.
5G is the platform to enable a new generation of services that require more speed, lower latency, higher reliability, and continued security. The 3-pronged vision for 5G of enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-reliable low latency and massive machine communications will be enablers for the applications of the future. 2degrees will be working with innovative businesses and minds in New Zealand to take advantage of this new technology.