Communications minister Kris Faafoi is keen to establish a framework for iwi radio spectrum allocations that can be applied beyond the upcoming 3.5GHz band auction, reports New Zealand Herald. Mr Faafoi told the parliamentary select committee on economic development, science and innovation that the iwi – New Zealand’s indigenous Maori population – believes there was a lack of engagement during previous spectrum allocations, and that he is exploring a potential framework ‘so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we come to spectrum allocation’. The minister has held an initial meeting with iwi stakeholders to explore a mutually beneficial solution and assured the committee that the discussions would not slow the allocation process.
Whereas Spark, the country’s second largest cellco by subscribers, is keen to press ahead with the release of 5G spectrum in order to have a network up and running by July 2020, the New Zealand Maori Council advocates a slower process following its failure to receive a special allocation in 2013’s 4G auction. The Maori were previously granted the right to buy 3G spectrum at a discounted price in 2000, which effectively enabled Two Degrees Mobile, New Zealand’s third largest mobile operator, to enter the market.