Preparing for 5G in New Zealand

5G is anticipated to significantly improve data speed and capacity for conventional mobile and fixed wireless broadband networks, as well as providing opportunities for new emerging markets.

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About 5G

5G is the next generation of mobile communication technology. The potential use cases for 5G systems can be grouped into:

  • enhanced mobile broadband
  • massive machine type communications (the internet of things), and
  • ultra-reliable and low latency communications.

The deployment of these networks is expected to begin internationally in 2020.

May 2020 update

In May 2020, the Auction for short-term, early access rights in the 3.5 GHz band for 5G services (Auction 20) was cancelled. This was due to the constraints imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, a direct allocation process will be undertaken. Offers will be made of 40 MHz to Dense Air, 60 MHz to Spark, and 60 MHz to 2degrees.

January 2020 update

In January 2020, the Government released details on the auction for short-term rights in the 3.5 GHz band for 5G.

View the details of auction 20.

December 2019 announcement

In December 2019 the Government gave the go ahead to enable further development of 5G networks by making appropriate spectrum available.

Cabinet approved the allocation of short-term rights to an unused portion of 3.5 GHz spectrum.

3.5GHz is the first spectrum band to be allocated for 5G services. Short-term rights will run from mid-2020 to 31 October 2022.

The decisions made also provide an opportunity for Māori interests in radio spectrum.

Long-term rights to 3.5 GHz spectrum are still on track to begin in November 2022 and details of this allocation will continue to be developed.

Full press release on the Beehive website(external link)

Cabinet paper — Early access to the 5G radio spectrum [PDF 312KB](external link)

Consultation for Technical Arrangements of the 3.5 GHz Band

Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) is consulting on the technical principles for future spectrum users in the spectrum range of 3410 – 3800 MHz (the ‘3.5 GHz band’). The current management rights in the 3.5 GHz band will expire by 31st October 2022. We are in the process of re-planning this band. These proposed rules and associated technical arrangements will only come into effect when the new management rights are created.

View the consultation document

February 2019 announcement

In February 2019, the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media announced that the 3.5 GHz band will be allocated for national 5G networks. Spectrum rights will be allocated by auction in 2020 and ready for use from November 2022.

Spectrum in the band will also be available to regional wireless broadband service providers. Allocation details of these regional spectrum rights are expected to be announced later this year.

Beehive website — Releases: 5G on track for 2020: 3.5 GHz spectrum the first available(external link)

Cabinet paper — Allocation of Radio Spectrum for 5G mobile [PDF 903 KB](external link)

5G information pack

This 5G information pack includes information on the regulations and standards involved in the 5G roll-out, along with links to existing government information including from the Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.

5G information pack(external link)

2018 Consultation

In March 2018, we asked for feedback on the possible 5G spectrum bands, their future allocation and on any other barriers to the roll out of 5G in New Zealand.

To view the consultation discussion document and submissions received, see Preparing for 5G in New Zealand — technical consultation.

2017 workshops

Industry workshops were held in October 2017 to better understand how 5G is expected to be deployed and used in New Zealand. You can view the workshop presentation in the document below.

RSM 5G Workshop