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Hourua partners with TCCA improving NZ emergency communications
Wed, 14th Feb 2024

Hourua, a joint venture between New Zealand's two largest telecommunication and digital service companies, Spark and One NZ, has joined the global member-led organisation for all stakeholders in the critical communications ecosystem, the TCCA (The Critical Communications Association).

Established to serve New Zealand's first responders using the new Public Safety Network Te Kupenga Marutau, Hourua is contracted by Next Generation Critical Communications, a government entity. Their remit includes the provision of cellular services for key emergency services: Fire and Emergency New Zealand, New Zealand Police, Hato Hone St John, and Wellington Free Ambulance. These services furnish first responders with a resilient multi-network cellular solution, enabling them to share information such as data, voice, video and images.

Hourua has already implemented the first of two key services for the Public Safety Network, Public Safety Network Roaming. Introduced in July 2023, this service allows domestic cellular roaming across both the Spark and One NZ networks, thus broadening mobile coverage for emergency services. In the event of one network being unavailable, users can switch to the alternate network, thereby maintaining communication continuity for first responders and public safety efforts.

As a consequence of this development, New Zealand's emergency services now benefit from a critical communications cellular service of global-leading standard. They can access enhanced mobile services and an additional coverage area approximating 28,000 square kilometres, thereby facilitating their service to the community and underpinning efforts to maintain safety across New Zealand.

The second role Hourua will assume for the Public Safety Network involves the launch of Public Safety Network Priority. Due to go live late in 2024, this latter service will grant emergency services' voice and data communications priority over other users in circumstances of network congestion or degradation, thus securing their communications.

Vaughan Matthews, General Manager and Head of Business of Hourua expressed optimism in the development, stating: "We look forward to making the most of the combined knowledge across all the members of the wider TCCA community to work with Next Generation Critical Communications and help the public safety community in New Zealand make the most of the current and emerging technologies."

The CEO of TCCA, Kevin Graham, also marked Hourua's membership with the global organisation, remarking: "We are delighted to welcome another mobile network operator to TCCA membership. As in New Zealand, many countries are looking to leverage existing carriers to provide critical communications for public safety and other critical industry sectors. The experience Hourua will bring to our global community will be invaluable in helping other nations and agencies progress their programs."

TCCA members and partners can set the agenda for the global development of critical communications within its working groups and its interoperability and certification programs. This includes its world-leading Critical Communications World event.