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New Zealand telecommunications firm Spark has formally announced its 5G rollout plans. The operator has outlined a detailed schedule in relation to its 5G strategy which includes its plans to open a 5G innovation lab later this year.

Spark also disclosed that its 5G strategy will see them boost its wireless network investment by as much as 40% annually, and hopes to launch its next-generation services in 2020.

Managing Director of Spark Simon Moutter has projected that wireless capex to be between 25% and 35% of the overall capex by 2020, which represents an increase from the end of 2017.

Spark will fund its ambitious 5G development program within its existing capex target of 11% to 12% of their revenue. The New Zealand operator has conducted a series of successful outdoor and indoor trials on 5G - and declared that its technical and network planning for the deployment of next-generation services is now at an advanced stage.

The Spark MD said, “We are undertaking detailed planning to map expected 5G cell site densities and, as a result of this planning, we are forming a good understanding of how many new sites we will need for 5G, and where. We have already begun a build program to increase the number of cell sites in our existing mobile network – which will enable us to meet near-term capacity demand as well as lay the groundwork for network densification required for 5G.”

Moutter also highlighted that 5G will enable Spark to provide additional capacity at a lower incremental unit cost than under 4G and 4.5G: “This means that once 5G is available to deploy, we will have a strong commercial incentive to rapidly build 5G network capability as the primary means of keeping ahead of growing customer demand for more data at faster speeds.”

The innovation lab will be located in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct, which will allow partner companies to test and develop applications over a pre-commercial 5G network, the operator said.