The government will auction 700MHz spectrum in the third quarter of this year, ICT Minister Amy Adams has announced today.
The spectrum becomes available following analogue switch off at the end of the year. It is valuable to mobile telcos wanting to deploy 4G networks, which Adams says will enable "mobile broadband speeds up to ten times faster than today's speeds."
"Cabinet has agreed that the spectrum will be allocated through an auction, and that the spectrum will be organised in blocks according to the Asia Pacific Telecommunity band plan. Using this band plan will give New Zealanders access to a wide variety of phones and equipment," says Adams
The design of the auction will be confirmed in the next few months.
There is a Treaty of Waitangi claim on all spectrum, but Maori stakeholders will not be given a specific allocation of the spectrum, says Adams.
"Instead, the Government is investigating the establishment of a $30 million ICT development fund, focussed on the way government can assist Maori to leverage the potential benefits from new technologies, and promote and support the language and culture in a digital world.
"The Government recognises the importance of Maori having opportunities to participate in the ICT sector - however, in keeping with the view of successive governments that spectrum is not a taonga, in our view it does not follow that Maori require further spectrum to be set aside in order to meet our shared objectives of the protection of language and culture."
The final form of the fund will be considered by Cabinet following the successful completion of the auction.