Mobile Market Breakdown: Which Mobile Network Does Your Provider Use?

Mobile Market Breakdown: Which Mobile Network Does Your Provider Use?

New Zealand may have plenty of options when it comes to choosing a mobile phone plan provider, but most of them aren’t actually providing you with the mobile network you’re using. Canstar Blue explains further.

If you’re on the hunt for a new mobile deal there’s a range of different providers to choose from. However, if you dig a little deeper you’ll quickly realise how interconnected the market really is.

The big three of Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees maintain New Zealand’s collective mobile telecommunications infrastructure, meaning whichever provider you choose you’ll be on one of three networks.

Other providers outside of the big three are known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), and effectively onsell network access packaged with services directly to customers. For this reason, it’s important when shopping around for a provider to determine which network you’ll be accessing and what the coverage is like in your area.

In the following guide we’ll take a look at who owns the networks and recent market share statistics, what to keep in mind when it comes weighing up mobile network coverage, and where each provider is at with their respective 5G rollouts. We’ll also run through which networks the different MVNOs are using.

Which companies manage New Zealand’s mobile networks?

As advised above, Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees each, respectively, owns and operates mobile network infrastructure throughout New Zealand. This effectively means that they both maintain the physical networks and sell mobile services directly to consumers.

As shown by the Commerce Commission’s 2021 Annual Telecommunications Monitoring Report, in 2021 these big three network operators collectively accounted for 98% of the mobile market share by subscribers:

  • Spark – increased its market share to 41% (up from 40% in 2020).
  • Vodafone – saw its market share drop to 38% (down from 40% in 2020).
  • 2degrees – maintained its market share at 19% (unchanged from 2020).

According to the report, this leaves around 1.8% of the market shared between a number of MVNOs. See below for further details on MVNOs and the networks they are using.

→Related article: Best Endless Data Mobile Plans

Network considerations: How to find out what coverage is like in your area

Network coverage varies from provider to provider, and it is important to keep in mind that different areas will receive different levels of service. From 3G through to 4G and 5G coverage, you’ll need to weigh up your needs and compare them to provider offerings.

A provider’s network coverage map should be your first port of call, providing an overview of 3G, 4G and 5G coverage:

  • Spark – advises that its network reaches 97.5% of New Zealanders (with 4G at around 97 per cent). Spark’s network coverage map can be found here.
  • Vodafone – advises that its network covers over 98.5% of the population (with 4G at over 96 per cent). Vodafone’s network coverage map can be found here.
  • 2degrees – advises that its network covers 98.5% of the places New Zealanders live and work (with 4G at over 96 per cent). 2degrees’ network coverage map can be found here.

If you have any further queries about the coverage available in your area, you should get in touch directly with providers.

→Related article: 5G Mobile Broadband: Is Now the Time To Sign Up?

Which mobile network operator is leading the way with 5G?

The latest in mobile network technology, 5G promises faster download speeds, less latency and improved network traffic capacity. Smartphones with 5G capabilities are now increasingly arriving to market at a variety of price points.

As it stands, each provider is currently rolling out 5G infrastructure around the country, with networks poised to evolve in the coming years:

  • Spark – Spark advises that its 5G service is live in downtown Auckland, Takapuna, Te Awamutu, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Christchurch CBD, Dunedin, Hamilton, Clyde and Alexandra, with coverage in more than 30 locations across the country. Further information can be found here.
  • Vodafone – Vodafone advises that its 5G service is live in parts of Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Manawatū-Whanganui, Taranaki, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Southland. Further information can be found here.
  • 2degrees – earlier this year, 2degrees advised that it had expanded its 5G coverage in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Further information can be found here.

If you’re considering signing up with an MVNO and are keen to access 5G, you’ll need to confirm that it is part of the services offered.

MVNOs: Which networks are they using?

The following is an overview of MVNOs currently operating in the local market. Of course, it will be worthwhile shopping around and comparing plans and providers (be it an MVNO or mobile network operator) in seeking out a deal best suited to your needs.

Skinny (Spark Network)

Skinny provides its customers a variety of prepaid plans with data (rollover and endless), minutes (regular and rollover) and text inclusions. Customers who have a broadband plan can also bundle their plan with a mobile plan and save $10 per month.

Do note that, unlike the other providers, Skinny isn’t technically an MVNO as it is actually a division of Spark (using the Spark 4G and 5G networks).

Trustpower (Spark network)

Trustpower’s pay monthly mobile plans come with data (both endless and rollover), minutes and text allowances. Customers also have the option to bundle with other eligible Trustpower services and receive a mobile bundle discount.

Warehouse Mobile (2degrees network)

Warehouse Mobile offers a variety of prepay combos with rollover data, minutes and text inclusions, along with data packs, and talk and text packs.

Kogan Mobile (Vodafone network)

Kogan Mobile offers prepaid deals packaged with a range of data inclusions, along with unlimited minutes and texts.

Megatel (Spark network)

Megatel’s postpaid plans come with either endless or rollover data, along with minutes and text inclusions. All of its plans include minutes that can also be used to make local calls and to call Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

MyRepublic (Vodafone network)

MyRepublic offers a postpaid unlimited data plan (capped at 10Mbps, with 20GB hotspot data), along with unlimited minutes and texts.

Compass (Spark network)

Compass provides its customers a range of postpaid plans packaged with data, minutes and text allowances. Its plans are only available to customers who have an existing broadband connection with Compass.

Slingshot (2degrees network)

Slingshot offers a range of prepaid plans packaged with rollover data, along with minutes and text inclusions. Broadband customers also receive $5 off their broadband bill every month (or a proportion of this if being billed weekly or fortnightly) for each mobile plan added to their account.

Orcon (Spark network)

Orcon similarly provides customers prepaid plans with rollover data, along with minutes and text inclusions. Like Slingshot, broadband customers receive a $5 discount on their monthly bill for each mobile plan added.

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About the author of this page

 Martin KovacsThis report was written by Canstar author Martin Kovacs. Martin is a freelance writer with experience covering the business, consumer technology and utilities sectors. Martin has written about a wide range of topics across both print and digital publications, including the manner in which industry continues to adapt and evolve amid the rollout of new technologies

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