Telecommunications company Spark is set to invest more than NZ$15 million ($9m) into digital infrastructure in Waikato, New Zealand.

The investment is hoped to improve access to cloud and connectivity services in the region.

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Left: Mark Beder, Spark. Right: Eion Hall, University of Waikato – Spark

Spark will also be taking over the management of the University of Waikato's on-campus data center and making significant upgrades to the facility.

According to the company, it will be operated as a "key Edge data center" for Spark and its business customers. The University will become an anchor customer of the data center.

In addition, Spark will invest in a new fiber backbone from Otorohonga to Te Kauwhata which will enhance connectivity to the data center facility.

Mark Beder, Spark's customer director for enterprise and government said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the University of Waikato to build data center capacity and enhance connectivity and resilience in the region.

"We have a clear strategy at Spark to invest in data center capacity for New Zealand, and building a network of regional data centers is an important part of these plans. As we continue to experience exponential growth in data, ongoing migration to the cloud, and embrace new technologies like generative AI, access to high-quality, resilient computing infrastructure such as cloud services located in data centers is critical to the competitiveness of New Zealand and our regions.” 

Spark's data center strategy comprises both large, centralized data centers such as those in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, alongside Edge locations in regional cities such as Hamilton, Tauranga, and Dunedin.

The University of Waikato's data center is, like Spark's Takanini data center facility in Auckland, connected to New Zealand's national research, science, and education digital network which connects with more than 120 networks globally to help researchers collaborate.

In 2021 the University of Waikato installed a Nvidia DGX A100 supercomputer in its data center. The computer consisted of eight A100 GPUs with a total of 320GB of GPU.

In February 2024 Spark announced that it was planning a new 10MW data center in Auckland's North Shore. The company also completed a 10MW expansion of its Takanini data center last August.