New Zealand telco Spark today announced that it would shut down its legacy 3G Network towards the end of 2025. Spark would reuse the radio spectrum for the 5G rollout in rural Aotearoa (New Zealand). The telco operates its 3G Network on 850 MHz, low band spectrum. Low band spectrum provides greater coverage, and Spark will use the spectrum for 5G as it has a better range and penetration.
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Spark's mobile network serves mobile customers from Spark and Skinny and its wholesale customers, Megatel, Trustpower and Digital Island. Spark closure of 3G Network means these customers would also need to be 4G ready.
Spark 3G Network
Spark first introduced 3G in New Zealand (Aotearoa) in 2009 and continued to evolve the Networks with the introduction of 4G, 5G and Internet of Things (IoT). Spark also shared usage numbers related to its 3G Network that made it to sunset the 3G Network. Spark said only 4% of its total network data traffic is running over 3G, and 3G voice calls have declined by 70% since 2019. So, this makes no case for Spark to continue with the 3G Network, as most customers will not notice any change upon closure.
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Spark shared nostalgic memories of its 3G Network by saying, "Our 3G Network enabled New Zealanders to use the internet for the first time on their mobile phones. And while it's served us very well, 14 years on, newer mobile generations are far better suited to meet today's needs."
Spark 4G Network
Spark's 4G Network is reaching 98% of the New Zealand population, and users are switching to faster and latest technology Networks. Spark assured customers that it would enhance 4G Coverage in areas with only 3G Network. Spark continues to invest in both 4G and 5G Networks ahead of 3G closure and will get in touch with customers for any necessary support required for transition over the next two years.
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Spark suggested that users can avail voice calls over WiFi, which means customers can make and receive mobile calls using a WiFi connection even when there is no 3G, 4G or 5G coverage. In addition, Spark plans to introduce SMS (texting) over WiFi in 2023.