InternetNZ posts discussion document on spectrum auction

Net administration body discusses 'digital dividend' auction in paper

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) has published a report on options and issues for the proposed “digital dividend” spectrum auction by Government.

A statement from InternetNZ notuing the publication of the report says: "In New Zealand, the 'digital dividend' is spectrum in the frequency range 694-806 MHz, currently used for television broadcasts, being freed up by the switchover to digital television. InternetNZ commissioned consultants Network Strategies to provide a report on the options and issues to achieve the optimal overall outcome from the perspective of the community."

In the statement, InternetNZ chief executive Vikram Kumar says, “The report highlights how the digital dividend spectrum is well suited for cost-effective and widespread deployment of mobile broadband services, delivering better coverage in rural and urban areas with fewer sites than required with higher frequency spectrum. The availability of this new spectrum is timely as global demand for wireless broadband access will experience explosive growth over the period 2011–2015, driven by the rapid increase in devices such as smartphones and tablets.

“However, Government must ensure that the spectrum allocation delivers optimal outcomes for consumers and society. This will depend heavily on how spectrum is packaged for auction and especially on the conditions attached to spectrum lots. While policy objectives are yet to be finalised, it is already clear that some of them may be inherently contradictory. At the very least, the policy objectives need to be prioritised.

“Government should undertake a detailed analysis of potential options for allocation using a total welfare standard which captures the wider costs and benefits. Existing spectrum holdings will also need to be taken into account.”

The statement continues: "InternetNZ commissioned the report to provide background information and inform its views for the public consultation currently in progress. Submissions on the Ministry of Economic Development’s technical planning and policy considerations are due by 7 October 2011.

While InternetNZ is still developing its submission, Vikram Kumar says “We will take, as a starting point, that issues such as revenue earned by the Government and using the spectrum for things other than mobile broadband should be given a lower priority. Early roll out and use of the spectrum, especially in rural areas, needs to be a priority. Considerations for promoting competition need to be carefully balanced, for example by an appropriate “use it or lose it” mechanism.

“We anticipate that the information in the report will be useful to others making submissions. For example, the report has valuable information about the varied approaches in other countries as well as the lessons for New Zealand in packaging the spectrum. There are also chapters looking at issues for rural areas and alternative infrastructure models. While we can draw on the experiences of other countries, it is clear that New Zealand has to make policy decisions that are tailored uniquely to our specific circumstances.

“Accordingly, we have published the report under a Creative Commons BY-NC licence and encourage interested people and organisations to re-use the content as appropriate.”

The report can be downloaded from http://internetnz.net.nz/our-work/Access/Digital-Dividend or as a PDF from http://is.gd/6prbih.

Computerworld's take on the spectrum auction and surrounding issues can be found here.

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Tags vikram kumarDigital dividendspectrum auctioninternetnz

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