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Vodafone NZ upgrades more than 120 mobile cell sites in preparation for 5G

Vodafone New Zealand has upgraded or built more than 120 mobile cell sites in the first six months of 2020. 

The telecommunications firm said its strategic investment programme saw 124 sites worked on, as data use grew by more than 40% each year across New Zealand.

The upgrades, which span the country, predominantly add 4G or 4.5G technology and capacity, which is part of the company's work in getting mobile towers ready for the fifth generation mobile network, 5G.

"We are continually optimising mobile coverage for our customers to ensure their smartphone and wireless broadband devices offer a great experience," says Sharina Nisha, head of platforms, Vodafone New Zealand.

"Our team has worked incredibly hard to upgrade 124 mobile sites in the past six months, despite the challenging disruptions of Covid-19 alert levels, as we know how important fast and reliable mobile coverage is for our customers."

Vodafone says the investment is part of its response to New Zealanders' "insatiable appetite" for data, such as the rise of streaming on social networks including YouTube and TikTok, or joining work video conferences on the go. 

Mobile data use has been increasing more than 40% each year for the past few years, with the trend set to continue as 5G becomes more widespread, the company says.

"Wireless broadband offers Wi-Fi connectivity delivered over a mobile-enabled modem, which has been proving to be incredibly popular during Covid-19 when fibre cabling installations ceased or home offices needed to be set up quickly to offer a reliable internet connection potentially while other household members were streaming movies or other files," says Nisha.

"We expect wireless broadband demand to continue to ramp up so we are planning our mobile network investments to outpace growing demand for these digital services," she says.

"New Zealand is a large country so we are focusing our upgrades in areas where there is the most demand - or the sharpest increases in data consumption," Nisha explains. 

"And we will continue to optimise our network to ensure we offer our customers a remarkable experience," she adds.

The sites are located right across urban, regional and rural New Zealand - and includes new builds as well as adding new technology or extra capacity to existing sites.

Vodafone New Zealand offers more than three million connections to consumer and business customers, and its existing mobile network covers 98.5% of where New Zealanders work, live and play.