Kiwis to benefit from accelerated 5G roll-out

The government’s announcement that it will allocate 5G frequencies instead of selling them is good news for New Zealand telecommunication users.

Mike Smith, the chair of WISPA.NZ, which represents more than 30 wireless internet service providers around New Zealand/Aotearoa, says allocation of the 3.5GHz band gives the telecommunications sector more certainty.

“The announcement ensures our MNO (mobile networks operators) get important access to the spectrum they need for 5G mobile rollouts but also puts clear expectations around increasing 5G coverage in regional New Zealand, which we applaud,” Mike Smith says.

He says the announcement gives the industry an affordable way to deploy 5G
“We see it as a win for New Zealand,” he says.
“It also confirms the commitment to Māori with the IMSC (Interim Māori Spectrum Commission) being allocated spectrum in the band.
“The additional announcement that network provider Dense Air is working with the government to develop 5G services into under-served areas using their unique networking solution with access in the band is also good news.”

Smith says all that remains to be done is a “regional 3.5GHz allocation” which will be a key enabler for rural internet connectivity.
“WISPA members, along with private network operators, are ready to use this
allocation in the band as soon as it is announced. Once spectrum becomes available we can deliver rural broadband to those people outside of the small towns and major centres which will get mobile 5G services.

He says WISPA is working closely with RSM (Radio Spectrum Management), the Government’s spectrum regulatory agency, to ensure equal and fair access to the 3.5GHz band is made available to WISPS and regional operators. This will ensure rural connectivity is boosted and not set back with a 5G mobile-only rollout.

“There has been an ongoing concern from our organisation that too much focus on 5G mobile would limit the benefits of this band for regional NZ.”

He says some mobile operators may have been tempted to go for the easily
accessible customers in the towns and cities, but with this allocation the government can ensure operators move into smaller centres.
“Also, providing spectrum in the band for smaller regional providers to provide
service those outside of those 5G areas is critical for a digitally inclusive New

He says the access to spectrum such as the 3.5GHz is vital for wireless internet service providers.
“It’s required to power new technologies that best ensure those outside of major cities and towns can have the connectivity they deserve.
“Our WISPA members, who primarily focus is on delivering services to regional NZ, need to have fair and equal access to this new spectrum and any upcoming bands as well.
“This will ensure that the more than 75,000 homes and businesses WISPA members already connect can be better served in the years to come.”

He says WISPA looks forward to future announcements in relation to the 3.5GHz band and a “regional spectrum allocation”.

For more information contact Mike Smith
Chairman – WISPANZ

WISPs Working with Ministry of Education on Student Connectivity Project


“Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) in regions throughout New Zealand have been working with the Ministry of Education to support the fast tracking of Internet connectivity for  students as announced by the Minister of Education today,” the Chairman of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA.NZ) Mike Smith said.

“Since the lockdown our 26 regional WISPs have been burning midnight oil helping Ministry officials identify homes in our regions with students but no Internet, and who we can connect rapidly.

“WISPs are already heavily committed rolling out the government’s Rural Broadband Initiative project to keep adding to our tally of around 70,000 regional and rural customers. However we recognize the extreme importance of student home connectivity in the present circumstances and will be redoubling efforts to make these connections once the details are resolved.”

Beware the Risk 5g Poses to Rural Internet Users

Despite the hype surrounding Vodafone’s launch of the next cellphone technology, it risks a serious downside to thousands of rural broadband users, according to the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA.NZ).

“Vodafone and its competitors are putting huge pressure on Government to reallocate radio spectrum so they can run 5G more cost-effectively,” WISPA Chairman Mike Smith says.

“However, some of the spectrum the mobile companies are trying to claim is already used commercially by about 30 regional WISPs, who collectively service many tens of thousands of rural customers. These customers are farms who use the Internet for business management, rural kids who use it for study, and rural people who depend on it for social inclusion. Most cant get Internet any other way.

“If the government responds to the cellphone companies’ land grab, some of those users could face more expensive Internet or even lose their hard-won connectivity altogether.

“The advantages of 5g are very much in the future. By contrast, WISPs are solving the connectivity issue for rural New Zealand here and now. 

“It makes no sense to slow or reverse the progress made in connecting our major export sector, just so that some online games will work a nanosecond faster or city people can connect their home air conditioning to their car GPS. 5g’s benefits are marginal and futuristic, but basic  connectivity for rural families and businesses is here, now, and economically essential.

“WISPA seeks a clear assurance from Minister Faafoi that no decision will be made to reallocate spectrum until the issues have been thoroughly aired in public.”


Communications Minister addresses delegates

Communications Minister the Hon Kris Faafoi was unable to attend and open the WISPA.NZ conference recently due to an unscheduled visit to the Nelson fire victims.

Here is a video address he recorded in advance for our delegates – including acknowledgement of outgoing WISPA Chairman Matthew Harrison.


WISPA Statement on Rural Broadband Announcement 18 December 2018

Rural New Zealand is fast approaching a milestone where almost every farmhouse and rural residence can access city grade broadband at city prices.

That’s the view of WISPA.NZ – the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association – following today’s government announcement of significant additional broadband funding.

“That’s an extraordinary achievement for a country with our geography and challenging rural landscape,” says WISPA.NZ spokesman Ernie Newman. “Today’s announcement of another significant government investment in WISPs is a further step to close the gap.

“Fifteen years ago New Zealand’s telecommunications industry was the least competitive in the developed world alongside Mexico. Today its one of the most competitive. Our broadband coverage especially is way better than Australia’s.

“WISPs, or Wireless Internet Service Providers, have been a key part of the solution. About 30 of them supply broadband services over digital mobile radio, bouncing Internet signals from one hilltop to the next using thousands of radio sites around rural New Zealand. They are regional companies, mostly owner operated, with a strong commitment to customer service which sets them apart from the mainstream urban telcos. They represent private innovation and entrepreneurship at its best.

“WISPs are very skilled at fast deployment. Since they first became part of the government’s Rural Broadband Initiative last year they have built many hundreds of new wireless sites in some of the most isolated parts of the country – vastly faster than the mainstream national phone companies.

“WISPs are looking forward to the challenge of completing the job for the benefit of  rural communities economically, socially and educationally. “


CONTACT FOR COMMENT: Ernie Newman, 0223764363,


Closing Taranaki’s Digital Divide

PrimoWireless – Closing Taranaki’s Digital Divide.

(Re-posted from The Download)

Fibre is making Taranaki’s rural wireless internet service run much better. It can reach deeper into rural areas it couldn’t get to before.

Regional wireless internet service provider PrimoWireless has used fibre for four or five years now, to improve internet speeds and reliability for its rural customers. Fibre also extends its network into those deep rural pockets even satellite can’t reach.

PrimoWireless’ managing director, Matthew Harrison, says fibre is proving particularly valuable to those at the furthest-most points of its network. “Some of those farms can’t even get satellite because the hill country is too steep. They were stuck on dial-up and they used to wait a whole day for an email,” he says.

Taranaki was one of the first regions to have fibre installed as part of the UFB initiative. The aim is to deliver the kind of fast telecoms service city people take for granted to rural New Zealand.

UFB fibre has helped transform communications in rural Taranaki, says Harrison.

“It’s the fastest there is. Nothing else can go as fast as fibre – you can do 10 GB or 100 GB. You change the equipment on the end and it will go faster.

“We use the fibre to get better speed and latency [faster response times]. We get it as close as we can to our sites, and then we use wireless to deliver the service to the end-user. The closer we can bring the fibre, the closer effectively we can bring Auckland to them – which is where all the internet comes from,” he says.

PrimoWireless’ combined broadband radio wireless and fibre service means its business and rural customers can now, for example, set up a viable home business, no matter how remote their farm. And local marae can persuade reluctant young Māori to join in their activities as they can now use the internet for downtime entertainment.

In the same way, wool farmers can attract younger shearers as they no longer face being disconnected from the internet while working on a remote farm.

Farmers can now make more use of Internet-of-Things’ precision agriculture applications – for herd testing and to manage irrigation and water levels, for example – because both the cowshed and woolshed can now connect to the internet.

PrimoWireless is 12 years old. It has 3,000 customers and operates 80 broadband radio wireless sites that form a ring around Mount Taranaki. The sites vary in size from small ones serving 10 to 20 people, to big ones serving around 200 customers.

In September 2017, PrimoWireless secured funding from Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) to further develop its network. It uses regional radio spectrum on the 2.6Ghz
and 5Ghz bands so it can serve both non
line-of-sight and line-of-sight customers.

“We’re closing the urban and digital divide,” says Harrison.

“We aim to close that gap up, so rural people can have the same opportunities as townies.”