Spark says Palmerston North city centre will be the company’s first full 5G site. It will offer mobile and fixed wireless services there.

The company says it will add four more 5G locations by the end of the year.

Jolie Hodson, Spark’s CEO, says this is a major milestone in what will be a long-term and significant investment in 5G infrastructure across the country.

Spark’s small scale launch comes eight months after Vodafone launched 5G with 100 towers operational on day one. Vodafone offers 5G in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

For now the 5G network will be available to suitably equipped Spark customers at no extra cost. The company says this offer will remain in place until next July.

This is not Spark’s first foray into 5G. The carrier offers a 5G fixed wireless broadband service in a handful of small South Island towns. Spark says its Palmerston North site is the first to offer both 5G mobile and fixed wireless.

Spark had to wait for available spectrum before launching its 5G network. Vodafone already had suitable spectrum. The Government spectrum auction was due to take place in March. That was cancelled because of the pandemic. Instead the Government allocated temporary spectrum to carriers.