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Wireless broadband spectrum auction in December

Media statement from Hon David Cunliffe, Minister of Communications


31 May 2007

The government will auction spectrum in both the 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz bands in December for nationwide and regional broadband wireless services, including WiMAX, says Communications Minister David Cunliffe.

"This expanded auction will put more spectrum into the market sooner, and fast-track the rollout of broadband wireless by more competing players," Mr Cunliffe said.

"The auction of the 2.5 GHz spectrum has been brought forward and the 2.3 GHz auction originally scheduled for May has been rescheduled, to enable a combined auction later in the year."

The decision follows careful consideration of technical and commercial issues raised in submissions on the proposed 2.3 GHz auction, including technology uncertainty; use for rural telecommunications, and concerns some companies and Maori have about being able to access spectrum.

"The delay to the 2.3 GHz auction is not expected to slow broadband wireless deployment. The World Radio Conference in October-November is expected to provide greater certainty of technology trends, which will help inform bidders."

The combined auction will make significantly more spectrum available for broadband wireless and other uses. The original 2.3 GHz auction was expected to allow for two to three nationwide providers and a small managed park of 15 MHz for common use by regional providers.

"The new auction can allow for up to six nationwide users and a generous managed park of at least 30 MHz and potentially up to or exceeding 50 MHz. This will ensure plenty of space for smaller and regional providers, including those with a focus on delivering services to Maori."

The government will be releasing a discussion paper on the design of a combined 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz auction by August. In the interim, licence holders in the 2.5 GHz band, who mainly use the spectrum for occasional outside broadcasting links to television studios, will be consulted about arrangements to transition to alternative spectrum.

"I am confident that the combined auction will provide greater certainty for investment in broadband wireless technologies and deliver on the Labour-led government's commitment to fast-track the roll-out of advanced broadband services for New Zealanders," said Mr Cunliffe.

Last updated 12 November 2007