New Zealand outlines plans to offer 700MHz spectrum

21 Feb 2013

New Zealand’s communications minister Amy Adams has revealed that the country will conduct an auction in the third quarter of 2013 for spectrum freed up by the digital dividend, ZDNet Australia reports. With the minister confirming plans to sell off 700MHz frequencies, it is understood that the spectrum will be organised into blocks according to the Asia Pacific Telecommunity band plan. Winning bidders are expected to gain access to the frequencies in January 2014, once the final stage of the digital TV switchover has been completed the previous December. However, it has been suggested that early distribution of spectrum could be on the cards if the early access is negotiated by those that emerge from the sale process with frequencies.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the state will not set aside 700MHz spectrum for either emergency services or Maori groups, the latter of which had reportedly been seeking to stake a claim over the spectrum. However, the government has outlined plans to establish a NZD30 million (USD25.2 million) ‘ICT development fund’, which the government will examine methods to ‘assist Maori leverage the potential benefits from new technologies, and promote and support the language and culture in a digital world.’ Emergency service providers for their part have indicated a preference for spectrum in the 800MHz band.

With Telecom New Zealand, 2degrees, and Vodafone New Zealand all expected to take part in the auction, Adams highlighted the financial gains the technological development will bring the country, noting: ‘Indications are that by using the spectrum for 4G mobile networks, we can expect economic benefits for New Zealand of up to NZD2.4 billion over the next twenty years.’