Vodafone says it will launch a 5G mobile network in December with as many as 120 sites ready on day one. It will be the nation’s first practical public 5G service. Spark has previously said it will have a service by the middle of next year. Vodafone’s 5G services will be available in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.

The announcement came within hours of the company completing its sale to Infratil and Brookfield for $3.4 billion. Vodafone CEO Jason Paris says he always planned to go live with a 5G service this year, but finance from the new owners meant it was possible to upgrade the network faster and without the need to sell assets.

Speaking at a launch function held at Vodafone’s Smales Farm site in Auckland, Paris announced four major customers for the network: New Zealand Police, BNZ, Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Waste Management. He said the technology partners building the network include Nokia, Microsoft and IBM.

In addition to the 5G sites, Paris says another 400 or so Vodafone cell sites will be upgraded to 4.9G. In effect these will deliver most of the benefits of 5G.

Paris says the investment from Infratil and Brookfield gives him more flexibility over spending plans. With 5G now ticked off he says the next job is to fix Vodafone’s customer service.