New Zealand opens up 4G spectrum to bids

Next-generation mobile technology a step closer

Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams has confirmed that it is the Government’s intention to allocate the digital dividend radio spectrum in the third quarter of this year.

The allocation of the 700 MHz band of spectrum will allow the building of fourth generation (4G) mobile networks using the spectrum freed up by the switchover to digital television, enabling mobile broadband speeds up to ten times faster than today’s speeds.

Cabinet has agreed that the spectrum will be allocated through an auction, and that the spectrum will be organised in blocks according to the Asia Pacific Telecommunity band plan. Using this band plan will give New Zealanders access to a wide variety of phones and equipment.

The exact design of the auction will be confirmed in the next few months following technical consultation, and the reserve price informed by independent expert advice.

The reallocation of the 700 MHz band of the radio spectrum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, Ms Adams says.

“Indications are that by using the spectrum for 4G mobile networks, we can expect economic benefits for New Zealand of up to $2.4 billion over the next twenty years.

“The use of mobile broadband services is growing at an enormous rate in New Zealand. Fast, reliable access to mobile broadband is enabling improvements in productivity and ease of business, and providing new applications for consumers.”

The Government has also confirmed that no specific allocation of 4G spectrum will be set aside for Māori stakeholders. Instead, the Government is investigating the establishment of a $30 million ICT development fund, focussed on the way government can assist Maori leverage the potential benefits from new technologies, and promote and support the language and culture in a digital world.

“The Government recognises the importance of Māori having opportunities to participate in the ICT sector, however, in keeping with the view of successive governments that spectrum is not a taonga, in our view it does not follow that Māori require further spectrum to be set aside in order to meet our shared objectives of the protection of language and culture.”

The establishment and final form of the fund will be considered by Cabinet following the successful completion of the auction.

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