New Zealand operator Chorus is calling on the nation’s operators and regulators to create a national shared, regulated nationwide 5G backbone using the same model as the Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) national fiber network.

The far greater and denser network infrastructure requirements for 5G networks mean it would be “unsustainable” if each of the three major mobile operators are required to deploy their own infrastructure, Chorus CEO Kate McKenzie told the National Business Review.

No mobile network operator will be willing to make the investment in deploying the thousands of new, densely packed cell sites required to deliver widespread 5G services if the deployment is left to the market, she said.

While rivals might see Chorus’s position as an attempt to slow down and control the rollout of 5G in New Zealand to maximize the returns on its investment in the UFB, McKenzie said, she is finding industry members to be receptive to the idea of shared 5G infrastructure.

While industry participants are not sure what a shared infrastructure model would look like they agree it’s a sensible thing to talk about, she said.

Chorus was separated from the former Telecom NZ after it won the contracts for 70% of the UFB rollout, with Telecom NZ agreeing to split its wholesale and retail businesses as a condition of the deal. Its wholesale business became Chorus while its retail business was spun off as Spark.

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