2degrees remains the dominant force as far as our awards table is concerned, given that it has successfully defended its hold on our Video Experience, Upload Speed Experience and 4G Availability awards. However, Vodafone has caught up with 2degrees for the Games Experience award and forced a statistical tie — resulting in a joint victory. While 2degrees is again a joint winner for Voice App Experience, Vodafone has taken Spark’s spot on the winner’s podium. For the first time since we began reporting on New Zealand’s mobile network experience in April 2020, we have joint winners for Download Speed Experience — Spark and Vodafone. Meanwhile Spark wins the 4G Coverage Experience award for the third time in a row, this time with a score of 9.2 points out of 10 — giving it a lead of 0.5 points over second-placed Vodafone (slightly down from the 0.6 points seen in our previous report).
In mid-April, 2degrees announced that it has selected Ericsson as its vendor partner for its 5G rollout and that its first 5G sites will be built this year in Auckland and Wellington. The operator has plans to upgrade 700 sites with 5G and intends to cover the country’s main population centers.
Meanwhile, Spark and Vodafone have been busy with their 5G rollouts: Spark went live with 5G coverage in central Christchurch in early March, while in the same month
Vodafone switched on 5G in parts of Tauranga.
New Zealand has escaped much of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, both the week-long lockdown in Auckland in early March and the ~80% growth in data traffic observed by Vodafone during New Year’s Eve compared to a year earlier show that it has still been an unusual time for New Zealand’s mobile industry. While the operators have made uneven progress since our last report, all three have seen their 4G Availability and 4G Coverage Experience scores increase and we recently reported that our rural users’ 4G Availability improved markedly between late 2019/early 2020 and late 2020/early 2021.
In this report, we’ve analyzed the mobile network experience provided by New Zealand’s three national operators — Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees — at the national level in the 90 days starting January 1 and ending on March 31, 2021. We have used 5G measurements in addition to those from previous generations of mobile network technology when determining the overall scores for each award.