Vodafone is welcoming the new Telecommunications Development Levy, which will replace the old Telecommunications Service Obligation (TSO), saying it will allow the company to drive fibre to 300 cell sites that would otherwise not be economic.
Steve Rieger, Vodafone's general manager of wholesale and new business, says the levy is allowing Vodafone to revisit a decision not to run fibre to these sites. If they get fibre, then they will also get the next generation of mobile broadband, Long Term Evolution (LTE), he says.
Speaking at the TUANZ Rural Broadband Symposium, in Rotorua this morning, Rieger said the government's upcoming decision about what to do with spectrum freed up by the move to digital television, the so-called “digital dividend”, is critical.
If telcos such as Vodafone can use 700MHz spectrum formerly used by analogue broadcasters, he said, the range of a cell site could be extended up to 100 kilometres.
TUANZ CEO Ernie Newman says his organisation has fully supported the drive to review the TSO and that during Rieger's twenty minute speech Vodafone had paid Telecom $800 to service unviable customers.
However, Rieger concedes that mobile wireless services may never be cheaper than fibre, but will “get closer”.