Dense Air acquires 2.5GHz spectrum; plans NZ wholesale network

23 Nov 2018

UK-based Dense Air has completed the acquisition of 70MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum management rights from Blue Reach and Cayman Wireless in New Zealand. The Slough-based company – an operating unit of the Airspan Group – bills itself as a ‘new class of wholesale network operator’, which seeks to use a comprehensive portfolio of 4G and 5G small cells to offer services to mobile operators for network densification purposes. The acquired spectrum assets in New Zealand will enable Dense Air to start its operations almost immediately. Paul Senior, CEO of Dense Air, clarified: ‘Importantly, Dense Air doesn’t and won’t compete in any way with existing retail service providers. Our mission is to help MNOs and MVNOs improve their business cases for pervasive 4G and 5G networks by densification.’

TeleGeography notes that one of the selling parties, Blue Reach, is the wireless broadband company set up by CallPlus co-founder Malcolm Dick. Cayman Wireless is believed to be an affiliate of Craig Wireless (which owns a subsidiary called Cayman Spectrum); Craig Wireless previously held spectrum management rights covering the 2500MHz-2520MHz and 2620MHz-2640MHz bands.

Prior to July 2018 Dense Air was known as Airspan Spectrum Holdings. Interestingly, in May 2017 Airspan Spectrum Holdings successfully bid in the 3.5GHz/3.7GHz spectrum sale held by Ireland’s Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). Airspan acquired 25MHz in all rural regions and 60MHz in all cities for EUR7.6 million (USD8.7 million). It remains to be seen whether the company will employ a similar small cell/wholesale strategy in Ireland, although TeleGeography understands that Dense Air was contracted to build a 3.5GHz 5G trial network for Dublin City Council in April 2018, as part of the ‘Smart Dublin’ initiative.

Separately, Airspan Spectrum Holdings came away empty-handed after Ofcom’s April 2018 auction of UK spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands.

New Zealand, Craig Wireless (NZ), Dense Air (formerly Airspan Spectrum Holdings), Dense Air New Zealand