The operator plans to launch commercial 5G services later in the year, hoping to catch up with its domestic rivals

Modernisation of New Zealand operator 2degrees’ core network equipment began in late 2020 using Ericsson core technology. Now, a few months later, it has been announced that that 2degrees has selected Ericsson as the sole provider of its 5G RAN equipment. 

Work on the network will start immediately, with around 700 sites planned across the country, the first of which will be in and around Auckland. Commercial 5G services are expected to be available later this year.

Currently, 2degrees operates around 1,800 sites across the nation, with population coverage of 98.5%.

Compared to its domestic rivals, 2degrees is arriving very late to the 5G party, with both of its major rivals, Spark and Vodafone, launching 5G services in 2019.

However, 2degrees CEO Mark Aue was quick to spin the company’s late deployment as an advantage, noting that the advances made in 5G ecosystem over the past year will allow them to deliver a better quality 5G experience. 

“What we’re building today will be far more advanced than what any telco could deliver a year ago,” he said. “In the past 18 months there have been significant advances in the 5G ecosystem and our 5G build is poised to capitalise on that. Ultimately 2degrees customers will benefit from mature and proven technology.”

While 2degrees’ decision to go with Ericsson for their RAN equipment comes as no real surprise given their work with the core in 2020, it serves to reiterate the difficult position of their previous network partner Huawei. The New Zealand government banned Spark from using the vendor’s RAN equipment due to security risks back in late 2018, and since then all three of New Zealand’s major mobile players have jumped ship. Spark has selecting Nokia and Samsung for its upcoming 5G network, while Vodafone has selected Nokia alone.

Unsurprisingly, this is having a major impact on Huawei New Zealand’s bottom line. The company reported revenues of just $111.3 million in 2020, down from $198.8 in 2019.

"While disappointing, it’s not surprising that Huawei New Zealand’s revenue was down and that we made a loss in 2020 as a direct result of the global pandemic and the geopolitical interference we have been exposed to," said Andrew Bowater, Huawei NZ’s deputy managing director.


5G is opening up a host of new opportunities for the operators. Find out how the operators are tackling the challenge of breaking into new verticals at this year’s 5GLive event

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