Rural New Zealand is likely to see its connectivity ambitions thwarted unless the government imposes stricter rollout conditions on 700MHz spectrum bidders, Vodafone has warned the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. In its submission, Vodafone argues that rural regions hold the key to unlocking the government’s anticipated NZD2.4 billion (USD1.9 billion) economic benefit following the upcoming digital dividend auction. As things stand, the proposed auction rules do not specify a level of investment in rural areas, and Vodafone has proposed three changes:
• Population coverage increased to 75% within five years;
• The introduction of a minimum coverage requirement for all regions; and
• The requirement for all bidders of larger spectrum blocks to roll out services to 80% of ‘Zone Four’ areas within five years, with a specific focus on rural regions.