There are several companies that provide cell phone service in New Zealand. Picking the right one can be hard since there are so many options. This article will look at New Zealand mobile operators and try to help you pick one based on how you use your phone and how much you want to pay. The goal is to give a basic look at the cell phone industry in New Zealand and help you find a company that is a good match for you.

New Zealand Mobile Operator

1. List of Mobile Operators in New Zealand

There are several telecommunications companies offering cellular networks and plans throughout New Zealand. They include:

1.1. Main Mobile Operators in New Zealand

The top three New Zealand mobile operators are Spark, 2degrees, and One NZ.

  • Spark is the largest with over 2.4 million customers. It offers prepaid, postpaid, and business plans plus broadband, home phone, and TV.
spark logo
  • 2degrees has over 1.4 million customers. It provides prepaid, postpaid, and business plans in addition to broadband, home phone, and power.
2degrees logo
  • One NZ is the third largest with over 2.5 million customers. Plans include prepaid, postpaid, and business options along with broadband, home phone, and TV.
One NZ logo

Collectively they serve over 99% of New Zealand’s population. All offer a wide range of plans although coverage varies slightly between operators, especially in rural areas.

1.2. Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in New Zealand

Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) sell mobile services through renting major network infrastructure rather than owning their own. This can provide more affordable pricing options.

Some MVNOs in New Zealand and their partner networks include:

  • Compass Communications and Skinny Mobile (Spark network)
  • Digital Island (Spark network)
  • Kogan Mobile and Orcon (One New Zealand/Vodafone network)
  • The Warehouse Mobile

MVNOs can appeal to cost-conscious consumers or those wanting specialized offerings. Coverage and speeds should be compared between operators. MVNOs offer an alternative for affordable connectivity through access to the major nationwide networks.

2. How to Choose the Best Mobile Operator in New Zealand

Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a mobile provider in New Zealand:

  • Network coverage – Review coverage maps to ensure adequate signal in common usage areas.
  • Data speeds – Transfer rates impact media/app experiences; operators’ performance may vary.
  • Plan pricing – which costs about $20$100 NZD; matching options with budget and requirements
  • Additional features – Some providers package in extras like free roaming data, international calls, and some apps.

It is worth assessing each individual’s basic needs for keeping in touch, traditional way of communication by phone or Internet usage, supplemented with additional preferences. Examining reliability of different network, available payments, and extra features helps select an option that works best for ones preferred interactions.

3. Best Mobile Operators in New Zealand – Detailed Comparison

The three major New Zealand mobile operators are:

  • Spark
  • 2degrees
  • One New Zealand (formerly Vodafone)

All three phone companies offer a lot of different mobile plans, including prepaid plans where you pay for service before using it, postpaid plans where you get a monthly bill, and plans for companies. They also all generally have service covering most of New Zealand, even though there may be some spots in countryside areas where you can’t get a signal.

Here is a detailed comparison of the three major New Zealand mobile operators:

Operator Coverage Network speed Pricing Other features
Spark 98.5% of places where kiwis work and play Average Slightly more expensive than 2degrees and One New Zealand Offers a wide range of mobile plans, including prepaid, postpaid, and business plans. Spark also offers a variety of value-added services, such as mobile broadband, home phone, and TV.
2degrees 98.5% of places where Kiwis work and play Average Slightly cheaper than Spark and One New Zealand Offers a variety of mobile plans, including prepaid, postpaid, and business plans. 2degrees also offers a variety of value-added services, such as mobile broadband, home phone, and power.
One New Zealand 98.5% of the New Zealand population Fastest Slightly more expensive than 2degrees Was awarded the best mobile network in New Zealand in 2023. Offers a wide range of mobile plans, including prepaid, postpaid, and business plans. One NZ also offers a variety of value-added services, such as mobile broadband, home phone, and TV.

4. Where to Buy SIM Cards from New Zealand Mobile Operators?

Here are some options to purchase SIM cards from major New Zealand mobile operators when signing up:

  • Physical retail stores – Spark, One NZ, and 2degrees all have dealer retail outlets around New Zealand where you can get plans and purchase SIM cards.
  • Operator online stores – You can buy SIM card kits directly from mobile operator websites and have them shipped to you. This includes Spark, Vodafone, 2degrees, Skinny and more.
  • Electronics stores – Retailers like JB Hi-Fi, Noel Leeming, and Harvey Norman sell SIM kits from various operators offline and online.
  • Supermarkets – Major supermarkets like New World, Countdown, and Pak’nSave will have starter packs from top operators near checkouts.
  • Dairies/Gas stations – Many convenience stores, dairies, and petrol stations around NZ will stock prepaid SIM cards for top-up.
  • Airports – When arriving at Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch airports you can find dedicated mobile operator stores or vending machines to buy local SIM cards at New Zealand airports.
Spark store at Auckland Airport
Spark store at Auckland Airport

5. Do Mobile Operators in New Zealand Offer eSIM?

The major New Zealand mobile operators like Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees all offer eSIM functionality paired with compatible devices:

  • Spark – Provides prepaid and postpaid eSIM plans. Activate eSIM online by scanning the QR code.
  • One NZ – Sells eSIM plans online or in stores. Use the app to activate via QR code scanning.
  • 2degrees – Offers eSIMs with its postpaid plans. Needs an app for activation.

Some key benefits of eSIM in New Zealand include:

  • No need for a physical SIM card
  • Remotely download plans by QR code or app
  • Ability to store multiple operator profiles/plans
  • Quick and easy online signup and activation
  • Use regular size SIM slot for dual SIM device

However, eSIM support is still limited on less expensive prepaid plans and not offered yet by MVNOs like Skinny Mobile. However, eSIM availability continues to improve with more operators in New Zealand.

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6. FAQs about New Zealand Mobile Operators

Q: Which mobile operator has the best coverage in New Zealand?

A: Spark and One NZ tend to have the widest overall 4G and 5G coverage footprints across New Zealand currently. 2degrees 4G coverage is also quite extensive reaching 96% of the population.

Q: Which operator is better – Spark or One NZ?

A: Spark tends to edge out One NZ slightly when it comes to speeds and performance. But both offer excellent connectivity and premium plan choices so customers are well served choosing either.

Q: Is Skinny Mobile a good operator for prepaid plans?

A: Yes, Skinny has excellent value prepaid plans with large data pools starting from just $16 for 6GB. It uses parent company Spark’s fast network making it a top pick for budget prepaid.

Q: Can I use my existing phone number when switching operators?

A: Yes, you can port your current NZ number to a new operator. Just request number porting when signing up. The process takes 1-2 business days to complete.

Q: Do operators in New Zealand offer 5G service?

A: Yes, Spark and Vodafone have growing 5G networks in all major cities and towns which are accessible using a 5G-compatible device and plan. 2degrees also offers limited 5G in main centers.

7. Conclusion

Choosing the right New Zealand mobile operator is crucial to getting good connectivity and value in New Zealand. The major providers like Spark, One NZ, and 2degrees all offer top-class 4G coverage along with expanding 5G networks. MVNOs such as Skinny give budget options. Evaluate your usage needs and priorities like data, speeds, price, roaming, etc. to select the best operator for your needs. Do some research into coverage for where you live and work. With an increasing emphasis on mobile connectivity in New Zealand, consumers have excellent choices across nationwide and mobile virtual network operators.