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Govt sells $176 m of 4G spectrum, mulls what to do with the rest

The government has raised $176 million from selling the bulk of its 700 megahertz radio spectrum, flagged for fourth generation mobile phone use, and is still mulling what to do with the remainder.

Telecom Corp and Vodafone New Zealand, the country's major mobile phone operators, each spent $66 million on three lots of 2x15 MHz spectrum while new entrant Two Degrees Mobile bought two lots of 2x10 MHz for $44 million, Communications Minister Amy Adams said in a statement.

That left one 2x5 MHz block of spectrum, which the government expects to figure out what to do with in the coming weeks. The government can either let bidders compete for the remaining spectrum or retain the unsold lot and allocate it at a later date.

"Overall this is a successful outcome for the auction that bodes well for the future of competitive fourth generation mobile services in New Zealand," Adams said. "While 2degrees has bid for slightly less spectrum than Telecom and Vodafone, internationally we have seen that 2x10 MHz is sufficient to run a viable 4G network and provide much faster data speeds to mobile customers."

The government put a minimum reserve price of $198 million for the spectrum, something privately-held 2degrees said was a premium to the $157 million spent clearing the radio waves in the switchover of analogue television to digital and the $119 million valuation attributed to the spectrum by the Treasury.

While some 4G capability is already available on higher MHz spectrum, the 700MHz range is especially well-suited to pushing fast mobile broadband into rural areas because it requires fewer repeater stations to achieve coverage.

As part of the auction's conditions, the mobile phone operators will have to upgrade existing rural cell sites to 4G capability within five years and continue to expand their coverage. That's to ensure at least 90 percent of the country has access to a 4G network within five years.

(BusinessDesk)

Comments and questions
4

"That's to ensure at least 90 percent of the country has access to a 4G network within five years."
or should it have said:
That's to ensure at least 90 percent of the people who are in New Zealand have access to a 4G network within five years.?

They are very different things as we know.

Given the Internet is becoming the network of things e.g. tracking goods pasture to plate, the usefulness of covering 90% of people appears to once again be rearward looking decision.

A rep for Amy Adams' office says "The figure is by population."

That's good, Amy Adams can use the money to plug the Chorus fiber roll-out hole ... and we can pay fair market prices for copper, if we so choose.

Right? Right Amy?

The reminder blocks should be handed over to other industries as it was stipulated in the bidding T&Cs and ideally it should be used to promote fair competition in the broadcast industry to break the Sky monopoly that is being held in this and other countries.