What the 3G shutdown means for your IoT

The countdown is on as businesses around Aotearoa prepare their IoT for newer, faster connections. And while we won't say goodbye to 3G until 2025, getting 4G and 5G ready can take longer than you think.

So, it's essential to develop a comprehensive plan for transitioning any IoT devices or mobile devices that still depend on our 3G network.

Please note, if you're a Spark Consumer or Enterprise customer, you can find the 3G closure information on those parts of our website.

View Spark general customer 3G closure information

Why we are shutting down 3G

 

Preparation guide

We've prepared a handy one-page guide you can email out or print out to help avoid disruption to your business.

Download the guide

Smart support


Understand how the 3G closure might impact you with our range of support topics.

Read support below

IoT wiki


Bookmark our wiki with all the technical details on IoT and our networks.

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Tech check


Check out list of Spark certified modules to help assess your IoT.

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Hardware considerations

 

Network considerations

 



Support

If you have questions, we might be able to answer them here. Otherwise, you can contact us below.

3G closure core information

 

We’re aiming to retire our 3G network towards the end of 2025 and by providing two-years notice, we hope to make sure you have ample time to manage this transition. Take a look at our guide to help you make a plan. 

3G was first introduced back in 2009. Today only 4% of our total network data traffic uses it. We’re closing 3G to focus on delivering faster and better 4G and 5G networks, which most people now use.

Spark’s legacy 3G network primarily operates on a limited low band spectrum (850MHz). Closing the 3G network will free up this spectrum and allow us to increase 5G coverage in rural Aotearoa. 5G has greater range and penetration compared to other spectrums.

This is a transition that mobile network operators in New Zealand and around the world will be undertaking. Many overseas operators have already switched off their 3G networks. 

Our goal is for you to have Spark mobile network coverage in your area with network parity. This means everyone has the same or even better coverage than they do today.

Our 4G network reaches 98% of New Zealanders, yet there are a small number of rural areas served by 3G only. We'll be working on a range of network improvements to provide 4G coverage in these areas. 5G is also being rolled out at pace.

We expect the vast majority of Spark’s mobile customers won't notice any change. 

Other than our 3G network, we have a range of network options available to meet different use cases. This spans from our 5G network through to network options tailored for IoT such as CAT-M1, NB-IoT and LoRaWAN.

CAT-M1 and NB-IoT capability are being rolled out to our LTE cell sites. We currently have NB-IoT across 87% of our population coverage. Check out our network coverage: Spark NZ network coverage

You can also check out our IoT Network page for more information IoT Networks | Spark NZ  

You can find a list of tested and certified modules and devices here.  View compatible modules and devices

IoT

 

We’ll be working hard to make the transition as smooth as possible and will be there to support your business through the change. 

You may find these guides useful:

Spark IoT has network options to suit a range of customer needs along with a dedicated IoT team in New Zealand.

When guiding you through the 3G shutdown phase, it's not just about moving to 4G, but understanding what other IoT network options may be more suitable.

We can help you decide whether another IoT network like NB-IoT, Cat-M1 or LoRaWAN is a better option for your long term business needs.

If you need any further support or a specialised plan, you can chat to our IoT team. Just get in touch with your Spark Client Lead or contact IoT@spark.co.nz 

Your SIM will continue to work as normal in the IoT Control Centre.

The IoT Control Centre can assist you by allowing you to deprovision and stage connections as you work through your deployment. 

You can use our development kits to test any new hardware solutions. They can be ordered using the form found at spark.m2m.com 

The PTC process is there to recognise that equipment won’t disrupt our mobile network. It also needs to meet the NZ Radio Frequency standards. 

If you need a bespoke solution, your devices will need to be PTC approved. You’ll need to ask the device manufacturer to contact us to follow the PTC approval process.

Our Device Technology and Certification team will also provide the carrier settings needed.  Information on how to initiate this process can be found on the Spark IoT Wiki. Go to Spark IoT Wiki

Once the 3G network is turned off, all voice calls will need to be done via VoLTE (Voice over LTE). Spark’s 4G and 5G mobile networks support voice calls using VoLTE.

Any replacement device will need to support VoLTE if you wish to use voice services once the 3G network is shut down and devices will need to have access to Spark’s data network in order to make a call using VoLTE.

VoLTE for IoT supports the following functionality:

  • Mobile Originated (outgoing) and Mobile Terminated (incoming) calls
  • The ability for your device to block the presentation of your number per call though Call ID Restriction

Supplementary services are not supported for IoT customers using VoLTE. Such as;

  • Call Waiting
  • Multi Party
  • Call Transfer
  • Call Forwarding

Voicemail is also not available with VoLTE for IoT.

There are no additional charges for VoLTE. Voice minutes will still be used out of your bundle or charged at casual rate.

For further information on VoLTE see the Spark VoLTE page

VoLTE Calling - Voice Calling Technology | Spark NZ

Other general information

 

4G-ready means a device or module that can connect to the 4G network and doesn’t rely on 3G for any functions. View list of devices and certified modules 

It's most likely that you won't need a new SIM. Your old one will work the same, unless you’re changing to a newer device or module that needs a smaller micro or nano SIM.

Check with your device manufacturer if their device supports our bands.

At a minimum, 4G Band 28 support will be required. Support of additional bands will provide better performance in certain scenarios.

Our supported bands include:

○ 4G Band 3

○ 4G Band 7

○ 4G Band 28 (700Mhz)

○ 4G Band 40

○ 5G n78

○ 5G n40

To confirm if you'll need to replace your antenna, check with your antenna provider that your current one will work across our supported LTE frequencies: LTE 700MHz (Band 28) at a minimum.

We also provide additional frequency support in some areas (including LTE 1800MHz (Band 3).

A Wideband LTE, 5G antenna that supports multiple frequencies may provide a better experience.

Contact us

If you need any further support or a specialised plan, you can chat to our IoT team. Just get in touch with your Spark Client Lead or contact IoT@spark.co.nz 

Contact us

Launch & Announcement


8th March

Applications open


15th March to 28th June

Finalists Announced


27th July

Judging Starts


26th August

Winners Announced


4th September

Funding and the 5G Co-Lab testing


September to October

Winners fly to New York


October