On Monday Spark held a public demonstration of 5G mobile technology outside Parliament in Wellington. Vodafone plans an Auckland demonstration event for early next week. The company says it has been trialing its own 5G connection at new headquarters at Smales Farm on Auckland's North Shore for some time.
In both cases these are early trials and are as much about increasing awareness as actual testing. After all, there are no 4.5G capable handsets available at the moment, let alone hardware able to deal with 5G. However, Huawei, which is Spark's technology partner, announced a suitable 5G chipset for handheld devices at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Another minor roadblock is that the various companies involved with the technology have yet to settle on a single 5G standard. However, this didn't stop companies racing ahead with 4G or 4.5G networks before a formal standard was settled.
And anyway, while similar public tests are underway in dozens of other countries, the hard work is still being done out of sight in laboratory-like conditions.
They feel there's a need to increase awareness, especially with government officials and lawmakers, because New Zealand carriers will not be able to offer full 5G services unless more spectrum is made available. 5G mobile offers vastly increased cellular network speeds, which requires more bandwidth and that means opening up more spectrum.
Both carriers needed to make special arrangements to get the necessary spectrum for their demonstrations.
Spark's chief operating officer Mark Beder says the company is keen to launch 5G in New Zealand as soon as spectrum becomes available.
Meanwhile government officials are starting to think about 5G. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has opened a discussion document on 5G and is calling for submissions by the end of April.
Spark scored something of a publicity coup beating Vodafone to be first with a public demonstration. The company is keen to signal that it is doubling down on its investments in wireless technology.
Huawei worked with Spark on the demonstration. The two companies have been partners for the past five years. Vodafone is working with Nokia. 2degrees, which has yet to make any public noises about 5G networks is a Huawei partner.
It's unlikely there will be anything more than demonstration 5G sites in New Zealand before 2020. However, you can expect to hear a great deal about it in the coming months.