Spark has given de-escalation training and extra security to the staff installing a controversial cell tower in Havelock North.
The cell tower, being built on the corner of Durham Drive and Te Mata Rd, has for nearly three years been nothing more than a sign-coated cage of grass after pushback from about 120 residents in the area.
Back in 2019, a contractor carrying out installation works was left with a bloodied face after violence erupted at the site.
The incident involved the worker and the adult son of a resident who had been protesting against the cell tower.
Before the violence broke out, the resident had been inside a hole contractors had dug. Police arrived about five minutes after the pair had exchanged blows.
Spark's corporate relations partner Samantha Smith said work recommenced on the "much needed" cell tower on Monday.
"Extra safety precautions have been incorporated into our plans," Smith said.
"Given the history of this site, we have measures in place including security 24 hours a day, to protect the health and safety of our workers as well as members of the community.
Smith said local police have also been given a heads up about the cell tower works "so that it is on their radar" and "our contractors have received de-escalation training to help them verbally respond to any possible confrontation in a way that minimises the potential for further escalation".
Spark identified that the current cell site serving the Te Mata area in Havelock North was reaching maximum capacity back in 2018, however the cell tower build was delayed due to opposition from a small group of local residents in 2019.
More than two years on, a second site serving Havelock North had become congested as it took the extra load, Spark said.
Smith said the Te Mata Rd cell tower would relieve congestion on the existing mobile network serving the Havelock North community.
"It would ensure Spark customers in the area aren't further disadvantaged by an increasingly degraded service.
"All going well, we expect the build to take approximately 10 working days."
Spark sales enablement lead Leisa Epplett said the lockdowns highlighted just how important it was for everyone in Aotearoa to have good quality connectivity at home.
"Data usage on our mobile network increases by 40 per cent annually and we invest over $100 million every year to ensure we can meet that demand," Epplett said.
"It is critical that we bring some of that investment to Hastings, particularly to areas like Havelock North, where connectivity has further worsened over lockdown, impacting our customers' ability to work, learn, and connect from home."
Since Spark's announcement about re-commencing of work on the cell tower residents in the area have been working on ways to stop it happening.
Havelock North resident Stephen Fookes, whose house the cell tower is being built next to, told Hawke's Bay Today earlier in September that legal action was being considered by the residents. He was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
Another resident got in touch with Hawke's Bay Today last week noting that Spark's spectrum licence for the tower had expired.
Smith said the spectrum licences only needed to be in place when the site began transmitting.
"We are renewing them now and will have completed the process before the site is switched on for service."
An MBIE spokesperson confirmed Spark's comments.
"A cell site can be constructed without a spectrum licence, but it cannot be turned on," they said.
"Renewing a spectrum licence typically takes less than a week."