Regional broadband licences

The 3.30–3.34 GHz band has been opened for regional broadband networks.

About regional broadband licences in 3.30–3.34 GHz

As a part of Radio Spectrum Management’s assignment of 3.3–3.4 GHz for regional and private networks, we have made available two 20 MHz channels (between 3.30–3.32 GHz and 3.32–3.34 GHz) for non-national/regional broadband.

Licences will be available for up to 10 years, from 1 July 2023 (or date of licensing following this) through to 30 June 2033.

A 2-stage process of spectrum access: ‘exclusive right to licence’ followed by ‘first-in first-served’

From July 1 to December 31 only those with an ‘exclusive right to licence’ will be permitted to place licences in this band. An operator will hold this right within a territorial local authority (TLA) area for 6 months, however the licences placed in this time will endure beyond the end of the exclusive right.

Following this 6 month exclusive period, and after all draft licences have been processed, the spectrum will be open to other parties to establish licences on a first-in first-served basis. 

At 11:59pm on 31 December 2023 the period of exclusive licensing closes. Between 1 January 2024 and when the band reopens, we will not accept new licences in 3.30–3.34 GHz and will focus on clearing any remaining licences from the exclusive rights period.

During this period, we may choose to consider small modifications to existing licences, however, this will be done at the discretion of the Crown Spectrum Asset Manager. Modifications we are likely to approve include correcting minor typos in the licence. Modifications we are likely to decline include any changes which claim new protection areas.

First-in first-served licensing in this band will open in 2024

More information regarding the first-in first-served licensing period will be provided in the March 2024 Business Update.

When the band reopens, any person meeting eligibility requirements will be able to seek licences in the 3.30–3.34 GHz band to deliver wireless broadband services. These licences must meet the technical conditions and not interfere (certified by an Approved Radio Engineer) with existing licences.

All licences will be subject to a resource charge (set out below), as well as other conditions, including a requirement to use-or-lose the licences.

Rules

Licence agreement

Regardless of whether a licence is created during the ‘exclusive right to licence’ or ‘first-in first-served’ period, a licence agreement between the Crown and the prospective licensee will be entered into with specific conditions on the licence including use-or-lose provisions. The template licence agreement is provided below.

In line with previous non-national spectrum assignments, an acquisition limit will apply to licences in the 3.30–3.34 GHz band. An operator will be permitted to place licences in no more than 15 TLA areas and no more than 1 of these TLA areas may be a major urban centre (Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, or Christchurch).

A sample licence agreement for licences in the 3.30–3.34 GHz band is available here:

Licence agreement (for licences within 3.30–3.34ghz non-national spectrum) [PDF, 382 KB]

Exclusive right to licence

A sample agreement for the 6 month exclusive rights agreement is provided:

Exclusive rights agreement for licences within 3.0–3.34 GHz [PDF, 340 KB]

Technical rules

The technical rules for licensing in this spectrum are covered in PIBs 39 and 59.

Spectrum Licence Certification Rules for Crown Management Rights (PIB 39)

Policy rules for Crown Spectrum Management Rights (PIB 59)

Please note there is no requirement to use any particular frame structure throughout the 3.3–3.8 GHz frequency band. Instead, a non-mandatory recommended frame structure (5G-NR TDD 4:1 DL) is suggested across the full 3.3–3.8 GHz.

Wireless internet service providers (WISPs) offering rural broadband services are welcome to use long term evolution (LTE) or LTE-like equipment within the 3.30–3.34 GHz frequency segment of the 3.3–3.8 GHz frequency band. Users operating with alternative synchronisation and frame structures can operate in the band, provided that they do not cause interference to users operating with the recommended default synchronisation and frame structure.

In addition, to greatly minimize any potential for interference to and from rural broadband users, we have deliberately placed rural broadband users between 3.30–3.34 GHz, which creates at least a 60 MHz frequency separation between rural broadband providers and mobile network operators. This means that even with unsynchronised system operation (due to the use of different synchronisation and frame structures), the likelihood of interference between regional broadband users and mobile network operators is very low.

The result of this is that you can use other technologies and frame structures apart from 5G New Radio (NR), and you will thus not be limited to only 1 equipment vendor because there is no expectation to synchronise with 5G-NR systems operating in other parts of the band.

Fees

You will pay:

  • an annual licence fee of $150.00 per year, and
  • an annual spectrum resource charge according to the location of licensed base station and number of licences per area. This is calculated as shown in the box below.

Charge per 20 MHz=Area pop count*(Nominal population cost)/5

Where:

  • Area pop count is the 2023 population estimate for the relevant Community and Local Board Area in question.
  • Nominal population cost is the per person value of 20 MHz of national radio spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, for 1 year, set to $0.085 per person per year indexed against inflation.
  • GST is not included in the price above.

Note:

Once 5 licences have been placed in a Community and Local Board Area by a single provider, any further licences placed by that provider in the same Community and Local Board Area would not attract an additional resource charge, however, annual licence fees would still apply.

Annual resource charge for each Community and Local Board Area is available here:

List of Community and Local Board Areas with associated per-licence resource charge for 3.30–3.34 GHz assignment