What is a Mobile Network Provider?

Mobile Network Providers in NZ
Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Ever wondered how you can call, text, message, or surf the web using data, on your phone? Well it’s all possible, thanks to a few mobile network providers!

Not sure what a mobile network provider is? Don’t worry, we’re here to give you the rundown on everything you need to know. Understanding them could help save you heaps of money!

What is a network provider? 

A mobile network provider is a company who owns and operates a network of infrastructure that provides cellular coverage. These network providers are also often retailers, so they both own the network and also sell mobile phones and plans.

The Three Providers: Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees. 

In Aotearoa, there are three mobile network providers; Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees. Collectively, these companies provide mobile coverage to almost all of the places Kiwis live and work. They all cover 4G and have been continuing to roll out 5G coverage. It’s important to note that all of these companies are also retailers.


Spark is one of Aotearoa’s earliest mobile network providers dating back to 1987. They were previously known as Telecom and quickly became a household name. They have years of experience keeping Kiwis connected. They provide customers with one of the largest networks across the motu, have strong nationwide 4G coverage and have a feature called HD calling. They also have been expanding their 5G network to cover many parts of Aotearoa. 


Vodafone has a long history of providing Kiwis with outstanding coverage, wherever they live. They have worked hard to provide 3G and 4G coverage to more than 98% of Kiwis. They also have a large rural coverage, HD Calling, and 4G roaming to many overseas countries. Currently, they have the largest 5G coverage out of all the network providers. So, if you want the fastest speeds, you may want to try them out. 


2degrees is the newest mobile network provider in Aotearoa, launching in 2009 with low prices and a motto of fighting for fair. They have developed a strong network and deliver 3G and 4G coverage across the majority of the country. They have the widest coverage out of all the network providers, so if you like to travel or go hiking, they may be the best option. However, they do have a more limited 5G network at present.  

What about MVNOs?

While there are only three network providers in Aotearoa, there are also Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). These companies rent the infrastructure of the network providers and sell mobile plans under their own name. 

There are currently six MVNOs in the country:

  • Warehouse Mobile (uses the 2degrees network)
  • Kogan Mobile (uses the Vodafone network)
  • MyRepublic (uses the Vodafone network)
  • Vocus (uses the Spark network)
  • Trustpower (uses the Spark network)
  • Compass (uses the Spark network)

They usually focus on attracting specific demographics with low prices or deals. However, they only cover a small portion of the mobile industry, with a recent Commerce Commission report saying MVNOs total only 1.4% of all mobile users in Aotearoa. 

MVNOs are definitely worth looking into if you want to find the cheapest plans possible or fit into a specific demographic that they’re targeting, e.g. students. 

The other retailers!

Alongside the three network providers (who are also retailers), Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees, there are a bunch of other retailers! 

Other retailers:

  • Slingshot (uses the Spark network)
  • Orcon (uses the Spark network)
  • Skinny (owned by Spark)

These retailers all have their own unique plans and deals that may be of interest to you, so they’re worth checking out! 

Why are network providers important? 

It’s important for Kiwis to know about network providers for a few reasons. 

1). Want the best coverage in your area? Or travel around a lot and need to always stay connected? Each network provider offers great coverage across the country. However, the small areas where they do differ, could mean a lot to you, depending on where you live.  

2). Get the fastest speeds! 5G is the next big thing and knowing which network provider offers the best coverage in your area will help you take advantage of this new technology. 

3). You could save heaps of money! Each network provider offers plans, deals and special features that could save you big bucks. MVNOs and other retailers also offer great plans that might be more attractive than your current plan. Understanding and comparing how each provider differs, will allow you to get the best and cheapest plan!  

Head to Mobile Compare!

If you’re keen to get the best mobile plan for your needs, then head to Mobile Compare! 

Mobile Compare is a comparison website where you can compare all the latest mobile plans. You’ll find a deal that suits your life and your budget! 

Best of all, it’s super simple to use! 

Just follow these easy steps:

  • Jump onto Mobile Compare 
  • Click on New Plan 
  • Select how much data, minutes and texts you’re after. 
  • Select the type of plan you want (Prepay or Monthly).
  • Choose which provider you’re interested in (you can select multiple).
  • Hit enter!
  • Browse all the plans available to you & compare them side-by-side! 
  • Find one you like and switch!

Now that you’re all clued up on the mobile network providers of Aotearoa, it’s a great time to compare and switch mobile plans! 

Head to Mobile Compare!

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