The New Zealand government has announced that it plans to stage its first auction of 5G-suitable spectrum in early 2020, when it distributes frequencies in the 3.5GHz band. National spectrum rights in the 3.5GHz band will be available to use from November 2022 when the existing rights in this band expire. However, if an agreement is secured with the existing rights holder, an operator may be able to use the spectrum earlier than 2022. A consultation regarding the 3.5GHz band will be published in the second half of 2019, while allocation details of regional spectrum rights are expected to be announced later this year.
Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Hon Kris Faafoi commented: ‘We are on track and keeping pace with other countries: with the spectrum being progressively allocated, companies can start rolling out 5G from 2020. While spectrum allocations occur, we will concurrently be working with Maori to address the radio spectrum-related Treaty of Waitangi issues [i.e. the protection of Maori interests]. Until this work has been completed, we will not be able to provide details of the 3.5GHz spectrum that will be available for auction … The government’s next priority is allocation of other segments of the spectrum for 5G in the millimetre wave (mmWave) bands, and details on that will be shared later this year.’
TeleGeography notes that the lower part of the 3.5GHz band (3410MHz-3487MHz and 3510MHz-3587MHz) is currently used for wireless broadband and management rights are held by the Crown and by private operators (Kordia, Vodafone, Spark, Connecta). The upper part of the 3.5GHz band (3589MHz-3700MHz) is currently allocated for fixed satellite services and is largely unused.