Kiwi roundup: 5G, rural broadband acceleration and cybersecurity expansion

Cisco becomes first collaborator in Spark 5G innovation hub

Spark has announced that Cisco is the first of several collaborators it will be working with to prepare and test the parameters for a Kiwi 5G network as it aims to help Kiwi businesses “win big in a digital world.”

Cisco signed an agreement earlier this month to contribute services, technology and capability to the hub which will develop, test and prepare for 5G deployment.

The hub will see vendors, developers and application provides working together on innovations. Spark chief operating officer Mark Beder says 5G will create endless opportunities for innovation of products and services in New Zealand, transforming the way we live, work and play through significantly faster speeds and considerably more capacity.

“The purpose of the 5G innovation hub is to start planning and testing use cases that’ll help New Zealand business win big in a digital world,” Beder said.

Cisco ANZ sales and operations director for service providers Andrew Findlay said the hub will allow Kiwi companies to work with Cisco’s programmable networking technology within a 5G sandbox.

Spark has already trialled 5G in Wellington and Auckland, achieving speeds of 18.23 Gigabits a second.

Rural broadband rollout jumps ahead

Work on phase two of the Rural Broadband Initiative and Mobile Black Spot Fund builds will be “substantially” finished by the end of 2021 – a year ahead of schedule according to Communications Minister Clare Curran.

Rural communities not covered by the RBI2 and its expansion project will be able to apply for funding from the NZ$1 billion Provincial Growth Fund.

“There is enormous untapped potential in our provinces – we have businesses with ideas and ambitions but they need infrastructure like high-speed broadband to compete equally in our 21st century economy,” Curran said. “We want to let them know we are supporting them, and to let them know what’s coming down the line.”

Curran said the Labour led government intends to grow ICT to be the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025.

Malware-Free Networks expands

The GCSB, New Zealand’s public service agency charged with promoting national security, is expanding its Malware-Free Networks cyber defence initiative to provide protection to more Kiwi organisations.

Andrew Little, the minister responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau said expanding the service will “significantly” increase the range of organisations receiving the cyber defence services Government offers New Zealand’s organisations of national significance through the GCSB.

Organisations of national significance include Government departments, key economic generators, niche exporters, research institutions and critical national infrastructure.

The expansion follows a pilot with Vodafone and some of the telco’s customers.

Little said the pilot showed Malware-Free Networks has “the potential to disrupt a significant volume of malicious cyber activity.”

The GCSB is developing a plan to work with telco network operators to deliver the expanded service, which is expected to take a couple of months. The GCSB already provides its Cortex cyber defence offering to nationally significant organisations.

SamKnows to monitor Kiwi broadband

The Commerce Commission has awarded a nationwide programme to monitor New Zealand’s broadband performance to a UK-based company, SamKnows.

The testing previously been managed by Kiwi company TrueNet, which announced earlier this year that it was closing after learning it had lost the contract.

Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said the programme is costing NZ$2.8 million over three years, under SamKnows.

“SamKnows was a standout applicant. It is considered to be a world leader in internet service performance, currently assessing broadband performance for about half of the world’s internet population,” Dr Gale said.

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