Vodafone NZ has delayed a plan to charge a $10 per month surcharge for 5G - pitching the move, in part, as a response to Covid-19.

The fee had been due to kick in from July this year. It will now apply from July 2021.

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The telco was first to launch mobile 5G in NZ in December, launching service in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

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But the level 4 lockdown mean fieldwork had to cease. A spokeswoman said today, "5G upgrades are still on hold" under level 3.

Level 4 also saw the postponement of the Government's 5G spectrum auction - due to start on March 30 - which rival Spark had been banking on to meet its self-imposed deadline of a July 5G mobile launch.

On Tuesday, MBIE said the auction was still on hold in level 3. At this point, there is no indication when it might be rescheduled. When it does go ahead, it will have a number of special provisions designed to assist 5G laggard 2degrees (which has yet to timetable an upgrade) including a cap on how much spectrum any one contender can bid for.

Vodafone consumer director Carolyn Luey said this morning that the 5G fee delay was, "To thank early adopters and existing customers for their loyalty, at a time when the discretionary spend of many New Zealanders is impacted.

"We also believe there will be a greater number of 5G-connected devices and handsets available by then."

Late last year, it was rumoured that Apple's next iPhone would incorporate 5G - regarded as a signature move to push the faster new mobile technology into the mainstream.

However, the new SE launced earlier this month lacked 5G as Apple focused more on price than features for the Pandemic model.

Another celltower attack

Separately, police said they still have no update on the investigation into a string of arson attacks on cell towers - including an April 5 Manurewa incident that was videoed then shared widely on Facebook.

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The latest attack was in South Auckland.

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Counties Manukau CIB Detective Inspector Shaun Vickers said police were called to a fire at a cell phone tower on Pah Rd, Papatoetoe, on April 28 at 1.43am.

"A scene examination has been conducted at the site and our inquiries are still ongoing.

"At this stage we are treating the fire as suspicious and we are continuing to work with Fire and Emergency investigators."

Police treat the criminal damage of critical infrastructure seriously, Vickers said. Anyone with information is asked to contact Counties Manukau Crime Squad on 09 261 1321.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website