Xerra is the very first company in the country to get commercial access to Spark’s new 5G network. Spark approached Xerra specifically because of the connectivity challenges that have plagued the Earth Observation Institute as it’s tried to establish itself in the Big Data space from its headquarters in Alexandra—a city that until now hasn’t had access to broadband fibre.
“This is a game-changer for us,” says Xerra CEO, Steve Cotter. Since day one, Xerra has explored a variety of options in hopes of securing the connectivity that in-house researchers and engineers require to do their work. Every avenue turned out to be a dead-end until Steve got the phone call from Spark. “We work with large data sets and it could take us four hours to download one image. Now, we can do it in four minutes,” he says. While Xerra is the first to be switched “on” to the 5G network, other Alexandra businesses and organisations will soon follow.
5G and fibre are exactly the kinds of technology, Cotter says, that will enhance the region’s ability to attract people who want to live and work in Central Otago. Until now, many have faced more limited employment choices because of the challenges of getting access to the necessary connectivity. For Xerra, that’s included not just its employees, but also their employees’ partners and spouses who need jobs too, before being able to make the commitment to move. This advancement will open the door to new remote working options, if they can’t find work locally.
Cotter points out that high-speed wireless broadband delivered by 5G and fibre is “the technological spark that’s needed to lay the groundwork for success if you want to achieve grand visions.”
Spark’s rollout of 5G in Alexandra kicks off a regional plan bringing 5G wireless broadband services to 5 other communities by Christmas.
“This is the kind of connectivity required to run a world-class science research institute in regional New Zealand. For us, it means people can enjoy a Central Otago lifestyle but also pursue a rewarding scientific career. And it’s the key to growing greater prosperity in the regions.”
The 5G announcement is also concurrent with the final fibre installations in Alexandra, which is a significant milestone for both Xerra and the local community.