2degrees comes of age major network expansion

One billion dollars. That’s the amount that 2degrees has spent in building its network since the telco first opened its doors to Kiwis in 2009.

What started as simple idea to disrupt the telco market and fight for fair for Kiwis has continued for well over a decade of building, innovating, and challenging the market.

Its services now cover 98.5% of places Kiwi’s live and work, and the award for New Zealand’s Best Network Experience from Tutela in 2019.

2degrees Chief Technology Officer Martin Sharrock says that because most Kiwis have fond memories of 2degrees as a start-up, most New Zealanders are unaware of how the 2degrees network has grown.

“The innovations 2degrees brought to the telecommunications market when we launched in 2009 broke up the Spark/Vodafone duopoly, bringing an end to unfair pricing for Kiwis. But, for many years we used infrastructure sharing to provide national network experience – that’s no longer the case,” he says.

In 2020 alone 2degrees switched on 341 cell sites – 33 new sites, 167 4G upgrades and 141 Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) sites taking its total sites to 1,669.

“Today our value to New Zealand’s economy is estimated at about $3.4b and a more than 1.6 million customers across pay monthly, prepay and business. We’re also the fastest growing broadband provider in the country, with 120,000 broadband customers,” says Martin.

While 2degrees has transformed and grown its network steadily over a decade, Martin says that the most significant innovations have happened in the last 12-months – and there’s a lot more still to come.

One of these moments of significance is the infrastructure sharing agreement 2degrees penned last year that will ensure all of its customers receive what Martin calls “the full 2degrees experience”, targeting the small pockets, mainly on regional roads or in rural areas.

“In 2020 we started enabling a new technology called Multi Operator Radio Access Network (MoRAN). Basically, it allows us to use 2degrees spectrum on another operator’s cell sites, which is like adding another motorway just for 2degrees customers in those areas. When MoRAN is complete later this year, we won’t have to roam on other operators’ sites at all anymore and 2degrees 4G will cover 98% of the New Zealand’s population,” he says.

The telco also recently confirmed its plans to build a 5G network, following the government’s decision to allocate early access 3.5GHz spectrum to the company.

“We’re excited about 5G and planning is well underway. We’re aiming to have our first sites live by the end of the year, but while we do so, for the vast majority of New Zealanders 4G and the ongoing improvements to our network will meet their needs. ”

“It’s an exciting time for us at 2degrees and there’s lots more to do,” says Martin. “Like we have for the last 11 years, we’ll keep building out and improving our network in 2021 and beyond.”