New Zealand telecommunications and digital services provider Spark has announced its collaboration with technology partners Ericsson and Red Hat to commence the development of the 5G Standalone (5G SA) network. According to Spark, 5G standalone core will be the turning point for unlocking the transformative capabilities the technology can bring.
Spark NZ 5G SA
As of the GSA 5G Market Snapshot in May 2023, 41 mobile network operators worldwide have launched 5G SA. Spark says unlike existing 5G networks that rely on 4G for connectivity, the 5G standalone network will connect 5G-enabled cell towers directly to a dedicated 5G core. This end-to-end 5G network architecture will offer seamless experiences and unlock innovative use cases for individuals and businesses.
Also Read: Explained: Differences Between 5G NSA and SA
5G SA Network Slicing feature
The Network Slicing feature allows for customised network segments to cater to specific use cases, according to Spark. For instance, mission-critical services like autonomous vehicles can benefit from dedicated network slices that offer ultra-reliable, real-time responsiveness.
Similarly, gaming enthusiasts can enjoy high-speed, low-latency experiences through specialised network slices designed for their needs.
Real-Time Applications Powered by MEC
According to the release, the 5G standalone network will also introduce multi-access edge compute (MEC) technology, which brings network processing capabilities closer to the end-users.
This reduces latency and enables real-time applications, such as video analytics for identifying health and safety hazards in real-time. By leveraging the capabilities of MEC, Spark aims to provide its customers with enhanced experiences and support emerging use cases across various sectors.
In addition to Spark's investment in C-band mobile spectrum, the telco plans to allocate NZD 40-60 million over the next three years to ensure the successful deployment and operation of the network in New Zealand.
Partnership with Ericsson and Red Hat
To achieve the goal, Spark partnered with Ericsson and Red Hat for 5G network expertise and reliable open-source technologies to modernize networks and deploy new applications and services on a scalable level. Spark said Ericsson is supporting around 55 per cent of the world's live 5G standalone networks.
The collaboration between Spark, Ericsson, and Red Hat builds upon the successful completion of a three-month 5G Standalone trial in 2022 as reported by TelecomTalk.
The trial showcased the seamless integration of Ericsson's dual-mode 5G Core, powered by Red Hat OpenShift, with Spark's 5G Fixed Wireless Access Network (FWA). The positive results validated the technical capabilities of 5G standalone technology on Spark's network, paving the way for its full-scale implementation.
This develpment positions Spark as the first teleco to bring advanced 5G capabilities to New Zealand, enabling its customers to unlock the full potential of 5G.