Bridget Canning. PHOTO/FILE
The introduction of a 5G mobile network could threaten rural broadband, say the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association of New Zealand [WISPA].
Wireless internet service providers [WISPs] provide broadband to around 70,000 business and homes through spectrum allocations.
President Mike Smith says there is a “real risk” the government may reallocate some of the spectrum currently used to provide broadband for rural customers to big mobile phone companies for the development of a 5G network.
“For WISPs less spectrum could mean having to either incur the cost of a whole lot of additional towers to service the current customer base or discontinue service to some customers completely.”
His concerns are shared by Bridget Canning from Wairarapa’s WIZWireless, which specialises in providing wireless broadband for rural users, shares his concerns.
“It certainly is a concern for rural people.”
Though 5G was a “great idea in theory”, she worried that those in the rural community would miss out as a result.
“In cities they will develop applications for 5G, but we really can’t see anything happening on the farms or even in small towns.
“For them to get more, someone else has to have less. Something is going to be lost,” she said.
The 4G service available is described as a network which operates on internet technology and combines it with other applications and technologies such as Wi-Fi, connecting to a mobile network with a SIM card.
The new 5G promises to be much faster.
In comparison, fixed broadband doesn’t rely on a cellular network like your phone and instead requires line of sight access between the subscriber and radio repeater.
Canning said their spectrum was “invaluable”, with their network covering areas in the Wairarapa and Tararua districts.
“In our radio network, every tower and every device in every house uses radio signals of one sort of another.
“Your mobile phone can go over a big distance but not with a lot of data and speed. The wireless systems go the opposite way – they can give you lots of data and lots of speed.”
She said losing spectrum would make the job more difficult and they’d have to come up with another solution, which could mean investing in more towers or even turning off services in some areas.