The festive period is not just a busy one for the country’s shopping malls and holiday hotspots, it is also the busiest time of the year for mobile telecommunications networks.
One New Zealand says mobile data use on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day can jump by over 50 percent, while holiday hotspots can see six-fold spikes in data usage during the festive period.
“This year we have added capacity across our end to end mobile network to support an approximately 30 percent increase in overall projected data usage,” says One NZ Head of Network Services Sharina Nisha.
“We’ve done a heap lot of work preparing for skyrocketing data demand over summer and we’re confident our network can cope with all those Christmas family video calls and New Year Eve selfies.”
In the past 12 months One NZ has built 80 new mobile sites, 40 new small cells and upgraded a further 270 sites to keep people connected. Over the festive season it also deploys 16 ‘cellsite-on-wheels’ (COWs) in areas where there is extra demand expected such as events and holiday towns.
“Over the summer we’ll be deploying our COWs at events like Rhythm and Vines, Rhythm and Alpes, Northern Base, One Love, Festival One, SPLORE, Big Gay Out and one at Hagley Park to cover everything happening there. We’ve also sent COWs to Whangamatā and Mangawhai to add a bit of capacity at those locations.
“Last year the spot that saw the biggest increase in year-on-year data use was Lake Rotoiti, which had a 1,869 percent jump, followed by Opito Bay with 492 percent, Pataua with 471 percent and Cook Beach with 329 percent. These are huge increases.
“We also look to maximise coverage at other busy spots in the holidays including the nation’s shopping malls and along traffic routes heading out of the main centres.
“The holiday period also sees a lot of international travellers visit our country. New Zealand should receive approximately 425,000 visitors in the months of December and January and given One NZ is linked with the most international roaming partners we expect a lot of those visitors to end up on our network.
“For Kiwis travelling abroad, we have 5G roaming in 58 countries and 4G roaming in 184 countries giving our customers the most places to connect from of any telco in New Zealand. We’re also pleased to announce that VoLTE roaming (voice on LTE/4G) is now available in 18 countries giving customers a faster and clearer calling experience while travelling.”
This year global mobile benchmarking company Umlaut rated One NZ as New Zealand’s “best in test” mobile network operator, and the company was rated the country’s fastest network in the September quarter by mobile data speed testing company Ookla. Its customers also enjoyed up to 30 percent increases in speed on 5G across the country following a full network re-tune to incorporate new 5G spectrum.
“While we’re confident the network is in good shape and we’ve got a great team looking after it 24/7 over the holiday period, some areas will likely experience congestion at busy times and we apologise in advance and ask peoples patience if that occurs.
“Next year the biggest thing that will transform mobile coverage across New Zealand will be our collaboration with SpaceX to deliver satellite-to-cell connectivity to customers outside of existing mobile coverage areas. We’ll initially be launching a text message service by the end of 2024, with voice and data services the following year,” says Nisha.