Displaying items by tag: New Zealand

The Trump administration has left itself wide open to more criticism after it declined to join an international bid designed to stamp out and eradicate violent extremism online.

Published in Government

Social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are facing scrutiny following the horrific terrorist attack in New Zealand. 

Published in Apps

New Zealand has trumped Australia in the space race. American-New Zealand aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab successfully reached orbit with the test flight of its second Electron orbital launch vehicle, ‘Still Testing’, on January 21. Electron lifted-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Māhia Peninsula in New Zealand.

Following successful first and second stage burns, Electron reached orbit and deployed customer payloads at 8 minutes and 31 seconds after lift-off.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. We’re thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch,” said Rocket Lab CEO and founder from New Zealand Peter Beck. “Our incredibly dedicated and talented team has worked tirelessly to develop, build and launch Electron. I’m immensely proud of what they have achieved today.”

Beck added, “Reaching orbit on a second test flight is significant on its own, but successfully deploying customer payloads so early in a new rocket program is almost unprecedented. Rocket Lab was founded on the principal of opening access to space to better understand our planet and improve life on it. Today we took a significant step towards that.”

Unlike big companies like Elon Musk's Space X, which use government launch sites, Rocket Labs claims to be the first company to launch its own rocket from its own launch pad. There are reportedly similar plans afoot in Australia, with a launch site allocated in the Northern Territory and tests expected in a year.

In the coming weeks, Rocket Lab engineers will analyze the data from the launch to inform future launches. Rocket Lab currently has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place in early 2018. At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year, and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year, more than any other commercial or government launch provider in history.

‘Still Testing’ was carrying a Dove Pioneer Earth-imaging satellite for launch customer Planet, as well as two Lemur-2 satellites for weather and ship tracking company Spire. Rocket Lab’s commercial phase will see Electron fly already-signed customers including NASA, Spire, Planet, Moon Express and Spaceflight.

Published in Satellite Industry

New Zealand-based company Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP, and TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity company specializing in undersea communications technology, announced that more than half of the 15,000km of undersea fiber-optic cable that comprise the Hawaiki transpacific cable system have been implemented by TE SubCom.

“The start of 2018 finds Hawaiki closer and closer to ready for service”, said Remi Galasso, CEO of Hawaiki. “Landing the cable in its home country represents a major event for our team and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our New Zealand partners for their continuous support. Hawaiki will bring huge benefits to New Zealand in terms of greater connectivity to Australia and the US, security of supply, diversity and increased business opportunities for the telecom and IT industries.”

With several thousands of kilometers of undersea fiber-optic cable on board, TE SubCom’s cable-laying vessel CS Responder is now berthed in Auckland, poised to begin marine activities for the New Zealand leg of the transoceanic cable system later this month. The operation will include the landing of the Hawaiki cable in Mangawhai Heads.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license was granted to Hawaiki in December 2017. The US domestic segment between Oregon and Hawaii was completed in the last quarter of 2017. The international segment between Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii has been underway since early November 2017.

Cable landings in Pacific City, Oregon; Oahu, Hawaii; and Sydney, Australia have been successfully completed. Cable landing in American Samoa is scheduled in March 2018, and the Hawaiki cable system will be ready for service in June 2018.

Chris Carobene, vice president, Marine Services, TE SubCom said, “We’re proud of the progress to date on the Hawaiki system and look forward to it being ready for service later this year. The project showcases the SubCom team’s expertise in the transpacific market and has been a great example of the kind of partnership that results in a successful venture.”

Hawaiki will link Australia and New Zealand to the mainland United States, as well as Hawaii and American Samoa, with options to expand to additional South Pacific islands. With more than 43 Tb of new capacity available to the market, Hawaiki will introduce true competition and dramatically drop the cost of connectivity across the Pacific region.

As the first and only carrier-neutral cable system between Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., Hawaiki will be in a unique position to meet new market requirements and deliver tailored capacity solution at the most competitive price.

Published in Telecom Industry

Apple Inc. has purchased a New Zealand-based company PowerbyProxi which specializes in designing wireless power products for consumers and industry. Apple’s recently announced iPhone X and iPhone 8 feature wireless charging technology.

Wireless charging allows users to recharge their electronic device by placing them on a pad or other surface rather than inserting them in a cradle or plugging a power cable into them. Samsung Electronics was first to offer wireless charging in some of their devices, leaving Apple lagging behind.

In February, Apple joined the Wireless Power Consortium, a group dedicated to developing the Qi wireless charging standard. Both Apple’s new iPhone products support the standard.

The Californian company’s interest in PowerbyProxi could be driven by some of Apple’s other products, some of which can support power transfer of up to 150 watts through any non-metallic material, for wirelessly charging industrial equipment, Reuters reported.

The New Zealand firm was founded in 2007 as a project out of the University of Auckland. The company received an investment from Samsung Ventures in 2013 for $4 million. The company said it will continue its “growth in Auckland and continue to the great innovation in wireless charging coming out of New Zealand,” said CEO and founder, Fady Mishriki.

Published in Telecom Vendors

New Zealand’s largest telecom provider, Spark, announced the addition of a third mobile node or Evolve Packet Core (EPC), adding additional capacity and resiliency to its nationwide mobile network.

Spark previously had two mobile EPC nodes handling large volumes of traffic, based in Auckland and Christchurch. The new third node, located in Porirua, gives the company additional resiliency and the flexibility to shift and re-route traffic around as required, particularly in the case of a natural disaster or emergency. 

Spark mobile customers have already devoured 34 Petabytes of data - (that’s over 34 Million Gigabytes of data or 4,886,819 hours streaming Ultra High Definition video) in the first eight months of 2017 compared to 6.89 Petabytes consumed in the same period last year.

This incremental increase in capacity means the Spark network is geared up to meet future technology requirements including the roll-out of 4.5G and the expansion of its wireless broadband service.

Spark’s General Manager of Networks, Colin Brown, says that the changing needs of customers is driving a focus to a wireless future.

“Rapid advances in wireless capability, together with the uptake of mobile apps and video streaming means we see people on the network for longer and downloading more data than ever before,” he said.

"We want to ensure we are giving our customers the best wireless experience possible. The installation of this third node is important because our customers expect an ‘always on’ service and so we need to ensure we have the capacity and resiliency to provide this,” Brown added.

"This demand for data means we need to evolve our network and our plans as we have done with the expansion of our 4.5G network and the introduction of our new unlimited mobile data plan.”

Spark is the only New Zealand mobile provider to have deployed next generation 4.5G technology as a pathway to 5G.

Published in Telecom Operators

New Zealand-based Hawaiki Submarine Cable LP and TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity Ltd company, announced that the 14,000 km of undersea fiber-optic cable that comprise the Hawaiki transpacific cable system are in the final stages of being loaded aboard TE SubCom’s cable laying vessels ‘CS Global Sentinel’and‘CS Responder’. Installation of the system will commence in early October 2017.

“The coming months will see the realization of our vision for Hawaiki, a system that will impact the capabilities and economies of hundreds of Pacific communities,” said Remi Galasso, CEO of Hawaiki. “Considering the scope of the project, the progress to date has been staggering. It is a thrill to reach the installation phase and know that we will soon be ready to light the system and deliver much needed capacity to the region.”

Manufacturing has concluded at SubCom’s Newington, New Hampshire, U.S. facility, including more than 14,000 km of cable for Hawaiki and more than 170 completed repeaters. Cable has been fully loaded onto the ‘CS Global Sentinel’, and the ‘CS Responder’load is near completion. Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) for the cable landing in Pacific City, Oregon and Sydney, Australia has been completed.

All installation permits for Australia, New Zealand and Oregon are already in hand, and continue to progress as expected in Hawaii. In Sydney, the construction of the land duct route is complete, the installation of the terminal equipment has started and the pulling of the land cable is scheduled to begin shortly. In New Zealand, the construction of the land duct route is complete and the construction of a new cable station is underway. The system is on schedule for completion by mid-2018.

Hawaiki will link Australia and New Zealand to the mainland United States, as well as Hawaii and American Samoa, with options to expand to additional South Pacific islands. Hawaiki will be the highest cross-sectional capacity link between the U.S. and Australia and New Zealand. The carrier-neutral cable system was co-developed by New Zealand-based entrepreneurs Sir Eion Edgar, Malcolm Dick and Remi Galasso.  

Published in Infrastructure
Sunday, 17 September 2017 10:38

4.5G now active across 10 sites in New Zealand

Spark, New Zealand’s largest telecom provider, announced that Cromwell, a town in the South Island, has become the latest site in the country capable of getting the fastest mobile data, as 4.5G switched on in the Otago region. The Cromwell launch follows nine other 4.5G sites in New Zealand, making a total of 10 sites, with more on the horizon.

4.5G is the next-generation of mobile technology capable of delivering more capacity and faster speeds, and giving people more connectivity options. The Cromwell launch in New Zealand follows other single-tower deployments covering limited areas in the Christchurch city center, along with the activation of a cluster of five towers in Queenstown.

The upgrade puts the Spark network slightly ahead of devices, with no commercially available modems or phones supporting the entire range and combination of 4.5G features at the moment. However, most new high-end phones support many 4.5G features, with the potential to propel their speeds to between three and five times faster than 4G.

“4.5G is an important part of our strategy because it helps us prepare for a 5G future today, keeping up with the changes in the ways people will use wireless technology over the next few years,” said Spark’s General manager of Networks, Colin Brown, adding that the deployment is a stepping stone to 5G.

“Because 4.5G combines a range of radio spectrum and uses it efficiently, we can provide more capacity and speed to our customers, allowing them to do more,” Brown added.

Spark says it’s committed to providing important connectivity infrastructure that New Zealand needs to compete in the new digital economy, and intends to continue to deliver more 4.5G around the country with the delivery of 10 towns around New Zealand in the next 12 months.

Published in Infrastructure

The New Zealand Government is investing $270 million to roll out Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) to 190 more small towns, and extend rural broadband to another 74,000 households and businesses, Communications Minister Simon Bridges said.

“We’re also bringing the completion of the UFB network forward by two years. By the end of 2022, our UFB program will provide more than four million New Zealanders with access to world-class internet,” Mr. Bridges said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English spoke about the announcement in Hamilton on August 29, where he was on the campaign trail for his party, as the country’s election draws near. The investment includes $130 million to extend UFB to another 60,000 households and businesses in 190 new towns and complete the network by 2022.

The investment also includes $140 million to extend rural coverage of high speed broadband under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) to another 74,000 rural households and businesses, and to deliver mobile coverage on 1,000km of rural highways and more than 100 tourist areas through the Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF).

New Zealand started UFB in 2010 with the original goal of connecting 34 towns to “world-class fiber-to-the-premises” said Mr. Bridges. UFB uses fiber optic cables to deliver broadband to households and businesses. It is most suitable and cost effective in urban areas with higher living and business densities. Earlier in the year NZ expanded UFB to 200 more towns, and the new announcement will bring NZ to 390.

Because UFB is not feasible for every rural community, the RBI provides faster internet to homes and businesses outside UFB areas through a combination of fixed lines upgrades and new fixed wireless coverage. Over 300,000 rural homes and businesses already have access to improved broadband under the first phase of RBI which was completed in June 2016.

The latest funding announcement is in addition to the $150 million the NZ Government has already allocated for rural broadband and mobile coverage. Mr. Bridges said, “We want to ensure that some of our biggest sectors that operate in rural New Zealand – such as agriculture and tourism – can benefit from the productivity improvements that better connectivity offers.”

The Mobile Black Spot Fund will improve public safety and visitor experiences by providing greater mobile coverage on stretches of State Highway and in tourism locations where no coverage currently exists, the National Party explained in a press release.

“We are providing coverage along remote parts of the State Highway network that until now had no coverage at all. For example, State Highway 6 on the West Coast and State Highway 1 in the Far North,” Mr. Bridges said. “Better connectivity in these remote areas will enhance visitor experiences at some of the countries tourist hotspots.”

Together, the Rural Broadband and Mobile Black Spot programs will be delivered through the construction of more than 450 new towers, in addition to the 150 already built.

“Today’s announcement brings our total investment in rolling out world-leading communications infrastructure to more than $2 billion,” Mr. Bridges said. “Once complete, New Zealand will be in the top five countries in the OECD for access to high speed broadband. Considering that in 2011 we were placed 26th with very little connectivity that will be a fantastic achievement.”

Published in Government

Spark, New Zealand’s leading telecom operator, reported an overall net earnings increase of 13 percent to $418 million, Spark Chairman Mark Verbiest announced on August 18. The results for the year ended 30 June 2017 were in line with expectations and mark further progress in Spark’s long-term digital transformation.

“It’s been another year of relentless focus on delivering for our customers in very competitive retail markets and on positioning Spark well for the digital future,” said Verbiest.

Spark’s revenue growth for FY17 was solid at 3.3 percent taking revenue to $3.614 billion, on the back of continued strong performances in IT services, up 19 percent, and mobile, up 5.6 percent. This performance, together with a continued focus on cost, helped to drive overall EBITDA growth of 3 percent, to $1.016 billion.

Despite the increased EBITDA, costs were up in 2017 compared to 2016, said Verbiest, reflecting higher short-term costs needed to successfully address customer service challenges experienced last year and to manage the workload arising from strong growth in Telecommunications-as-a-Service and IT service contract wins. In addition, there were costs related to the large-scale migration of customers off copper to wireless or fiber, and from Yahoo to SMX email.

“While we’re proud of what we have achieved so far, and we’ve continued to execute our long-term strategy well and deliver good financial results, there are signs that fresh impetus is needed for the next phase of our transformation,” said Verbiest.

Spark Managing Director Simon Moutter said, “Operationally, we have made some big moves. The successful launch of our ‘Upgrade New Zealand’ program saw wireless broadband connections grow to 84,000 (up 72,000), and fiber connections grow to 172,000 (up 73,000) –meaning around 37% of Spark’s broadband base is now off copper.”

Moutter added, “We also successfully migrated 800,000 customer email accounts safely to New Zealand-based provider SMX, and entered new partnerships with Netflix and Spark Arena to complement our Lightbox and Spotify value add-ons.”

The company has seen a strong take-up of Telecommunications-as-a-service offerings to Government with 100+ customers connected to solutions that contribute towards delivering more customer-centric public services, Moutter said. The company also made material improvements in key customer service metrics including call wait times.

“But we still have a long way to go,” Moutter claims. “In an exponentially evolving digital world, where change is the new normal, the complexity of fast-changing technology has customers grappling with the pace of change.

“Meanwhile, customer preference is shifting rapidly to wireless, enabled by high-speed mobile coverage. In mobile and broadband particularly, commoditization pressures mean more and more New Zealanders are buying their mobile or broadband services based primarily on price.

“Increasingly, the companies most likely to win are those that cut through complexity to deliver a highly automated and slick digital self-service customer experience, and who have a simpler proposition to sell, maintain and support than their competitors.”

Over the next few years, Spark plans to put more resources into digitizing and simplifying its products and services to materially lower its cost of operating and put more power into the hands of customers. Spark’s other focus will be to better leveraging its brands, meeting the needs of all parts of the market.

Spark’s third new area of focus will be to meet the growing customer appetite for wireless technologies. Moutter said the company will increase its emphasis on investment in this area to deliver improved mobile and wireless broadband services. “By 2020 we aim to have 85 percent of our broadband customers migrated away from copper onto fiber or wireless technologies,” he said.

Mr. Verbiest said the future looked bright for Spark. “Spark is in a great position to navigate the new digital era. We have a strong balance sheet. We have invested well in fiber and wireless data network leadership,” he said. “Our aim is to accelerate change at Spark, and work hardest where we can make the biggest difference for our customers.”

Published in Telecom Operators
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