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One NZ readies mobile network for festive data surge
Thu, 28th Dec 2023

Expectations are high for a surge in mobile data usage over the festive period in New Zealand, with One New Zealand, the country's telecommunications provider, making strides to bolster their end-to-end mobile network's capacity.

Highlighting the subject's prominence, Sharina Nisha, Head of Network Services at One NZ, stated that "mobile data use on Christmas Day and New Year's Day can jump by over 50 percent, while holiday hotspots can see six-fold spikes in data usage during the festive period."

In anticipation of this swell in data consumption, One NZ has prepared robustly. Nisha revealed, "This year we have added capacity across our end-to-end mobile network to support an approximately 30 percent increase in overall projected data usage."

The company has seen a significant expansion of its network in the last year, building 80 new mobile sites and upgrading a further 270, alongside the introduction of 40 new small cells geared to keep people connected.

Nisha said they have "done a heap lot of work preparing for skyrocketing data demand over summer" and are positive that their network will be able to handle the demand surge during the festive period, particularly from activities such as "Christmas family video calls and New Year's Eve selfies".

Over the holiday season, One NZ has also planned on deploying 16 cellsite-on-wheels (COWs) in areas with anticipated extra demand from events and popular holiday towns.

Places like Lake Rotoiti, Opito Bay, Pataua, and Cook Beach saw substantial increases in data usage last year, with Lake Rotoiti leading the pack with a hefty 1869 percent uptick. Traffic routes leading out of main centres, as well as the country's bustling shopping malls, are other areas where One NZ is focusing on maximising coverage over the holiday period.

Frequent international travellers are also covered, with One NZ boasting the most 4G roaming in 184 countries and 5G roaming in 58 countries "giving our customers the most places to connect from of any telco in New Zealand," Nisha said.

VoLTE roaming, facilitating clearer and quicker calling experiences, is now available in 18 countries, a benefit to those visiting from abroad.

One NZ was recently recognised as New Zealand's best-in-test mobile network operator by global mobile benchmarking firm, Umlaut. It was also named the country's fastest network in the September quarter by mobile data speed testing company Ookla.

Despite these affirmations, One NZ recognises that there may be challenges, conceding, "some areas will likely experience congestion at busy times and we apologise in advance and ask people's patience if that occurs."

Nisha also shed light on the company's future ambitions, noting that "the biggest thing that will transform mobile coverage across New Zealand will be our collaboration with SpaceX to deliver satellite-to-cell connectivity to customers outside of existing mobile coverage areas." A text message service is planned to be launched by the end of 2024, with voice and data services to follow in the subsequent year.