Spark says it has turned on commercial 5G mobile service in downtown Auckland today - an announcement that coincided with the launch of four new iPhones that support 5G.
The coverage extends to the outskirts of Ponsonby to the west, the bottom of Parnell in the east and to the edges of Newton in the north. See a coverage map here. A dollop of Takapuna and the harbour is also covered.
The telco won't be pinned down on a timetable for covering the rest fo the city. "We will be looking to rollout in further areas progressively, and by the end of the year we will have 5G in a further three locations across the country," a Spark spokeswoman said.
Like rival Vodafone, Spark is not charging any surcharge for the faster mobile technology - but it does require a phone that supports 5G.
The telco has also partnered with Auckland Transport (AT) to showcase some of the latest in IoT (Internet of Things) technology and demonstrate what the future could look like for Auckland's CBD with the power of 5G.
Spark and AT have installed IoT-enabled infrastructure at Auckland's Wynyard Quarter - including 5G connected lighting, solar-powered smart benches with device-charging capability, smart bins that can deliver real-time alerts about their capacity, and parking sensors.
"5G will eventually allow for one million devices to be connected per square kilometre on a continual basis, generating data that will help Governments, Councils and businesses respond quickly, allocate resources wisely and plan for the future, which will ultimately improve services and amenities for New Zealanders," Spark technology lead Renee Mateparae said.
The AT trial will see devices connected over Spark's low-power IoT network as well as its new 5G mobile network.
Vodafone launched NZ's first 5G mobile service in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown in December last year, and has since been filling out coverage in those areas (the clip below was taken in Wellington).
Spark launched its first 5G mobile service in Palmerston North in July, and says other - as yet un-named - centres will follow Auckland in get 5G by Christmas, the telco says.
With its 4G partner Huawei sidelined by the GCSB, Spark has turned to Nokia Networks and Samsung to fill the breach on the edge of its network, while incumbents Cisco and Ericsson will continue to manage the core.
2degrees - an almost all-Huawei shop, at this point but assessing alternatives - says it will begin its 5G upgrade before the end of 2021.
The exact performance of 5G, like any mobile technology, depends on your proximity to the nearest cell site.
But the mobile technology supports fibre-like speeds, many more devices connected simultaneously, almost none of the latency (lag) associated with data-intensive two-way connections with early mobile technologies and lots of network smarts that help manage the "internet of things" or the growing universe of smart devices connected to the internet.
In the months and years ahead, Spark and Vodafone are expected to position fixed-wireless 5G - where a mobile network is used as a landline substitute for a single home or business - as an alternative to Chorus UFB fibre.
The Telecommunications Forum recently launched a site that addresses various bogus conspiracy theories about 5G. It joined similar efforts by the Prime Minister's chief science advisor and other experts.
A wave of arson attacks on 5G cellphone towers earlier this year subsided following two arrests.