Spark has allocated $625,000 of would-be advertising budget to fund four small businesses looking to use 5G technology to stimulate New Zealand's economic recovery.
The telecommunications company is looking for start-ups with creative ideas on how to bring 5G use cases to life through its 5G Starter Fund to benefit the country.
One possible area is drones.
Autonomous vehicles and drone delivery could be a reality in New Zealand over the next few years as the fifth generation of wireless communications technology is rolled out.
The technology for both is being tested in various forms locally - but needs high data loads to operate efficiently. The telco is looking for other innovative technologies that can revolutionise industries.
Matt Bain, marketing director at Spark, said technology and digital innovation would play a critical role in New Zealand's economic recovery.
"We want to work alongside our most innovative thinkers to identify the future 5G use cases that will have the biggest impact for New Zealand as we start to rebuild after Covid-19," Bain told the Herald.
"Advancements such as 5G will significantly improve connectivity and productivity."
Applications for the 5G Starter Fund are now open, for businesses with 0 to 100 staff, until August 16. Businesses are being asked to submit a video that summarises their ideas that fall under the categories of "next-generation health", "good for New Zealand", "industry disrupters" and "immersive experiences".
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The 1st place prize winner will receive $250,000 and three runners up will each receive $125,000. All will receive business and tech mentoring from industry leaders, as well as access to technology and equipment to test and build on Spark's 5G network.
Bain said the roll-out of 5G in New Zealand would "turbocharge" connectivity at a time when it is more important than ever.
5G enables massive bandwidth for streaming at high definition, low latency, and multiple devices to be connected at one time.
"Every generation of network creates conditions for growth at a country and a global level. A lot of smaller businesses might get shut out of that, so we felt that we wanted to create conditions for small businesses to be able to engage in the growth that 5G creates."
Spark is hoping to find a healthcare business that can train staff and respond to events remotely or a business that can enable e-learning from mobile devices or enable fleet tracking to keep an eye on a company's assets at any point in time.
The use cases for 5G are still emerging, Bain said. "What we think is exciting about this is it is not necessarily all set yet - there's a lot of ideas that haven't been thought up - and there's a real opportunity for good ideas to take route and to have a chance to scale.
"Often an industry will start and everyone will already know where all the value is, but the world is shining a torch in the dark a bit here to find the good ideas, and this is part of the process."
Spark has begun its rollout of 5G infrastructure and is expected to launch its 5G mobile service later in the year.
It took years for 4G to become mainstream in New Zealand, the same is expected with 5G.