Sparks coverage into two locations onto the West Coast – Bruce Bay and Lake Moeraki have temporarily stopped as the femtocell providing the 3G coverage has expired.
The femtocells were originally installed into Bruce Bay / Lake Moeraki at the request of the Rural Connectivity Group. This was to provide some mobile coverage to the local area.
A femtocell is a type of small cell that can be used to provide 3G coverage in areas that don’t have 3G coverage. The femtocell taps into an internet connection to enable mobile phone use (sending and receiving calls). It provides a localised 3G signal to provide coverage for a mobile phone.
The security certificate on the Spark femtocell at Bruce Bay / Lake Moeraki expired on 26 July, and once the certificate expired, the femtocell stopped working.
Unfortunately, Spark is not able to extend the security certificate.
Spark is replacing the femtocell at Bruce Bay / Lake Moeraki as quickly as possible. We will replace it with another small cell technology known as a microcell. The new small cell, once installed, will restore the 3G coverage to Spark customers in the local community.
Unfortunately, there is a delay of 2-3 weeks until we can install the new microcell. This is due to general freight transportation disruption caused by the Covid19 pandemic, which meant there has been a delay in the new small cells arriving into New Zealand.
In addition, the Covid19 lockdown created some challenges and delays in our testing of the new equipment before we could begin deployment. Replacing the small cell for the Bruce Bay community / at Lake Moeraki is a priority for Spark, so we’re working hard to install the replacement as soon as possible.
In the meantime, any emergency calls to 111 will still go through as there is 3G mobile coverage in the area from other mobile network operators. There is a standing agreement between mobile network operators in New Zealand that 111 calls are always the highest priority, and that 111 calls will be carried by any mobile network operator, regardless of which network the customer is with. This means that any Spark customer with an active mobile sim card will be able to make 111 calls, despite there being no Spark 3G coverage provided by the Spark femtocell.
We do apologise to Spark customers that may be trying to use 3G mobile coverage in the Bruce Bay / Lake Moeraki area for calling family, friends, or for work.