Economic benefits of digital switchover up to $2.4b: Coleman

MED expected to release discussion document on 700MHz band later this year

The total economic benefits of the switch-over to digital television are estimated to be between $1.1 billion and $2.4 billion over 20 years, says Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman.

He was responding to questions in Parliament last week about progress toward the digital change-over.

Coleman says that in addition to enhanced reception and better picture quality, radio spectrum in the 700MHz band will be ideal for 4G mobile technologies which provide access to faster mobile broadband services, with improved coverage.

In the National Infrastructure Plan released by Minister Bill English, it says the Ministry of Economic Development is working on frequency and planning allocation issues in the 700MHz band and expects to release a discussion document later this year.

“Given the increasing demand for data and spectrum it is likely that consideration of 5G will not be far behind,” the plan reads.

“The government is working to ensure that radio spectrum legislation and policy frameworks keep pace with technological developments and make efficient use of the spectrum resource. It is currently scoping the need for a review of the Radio Communications Act in the 2011/12 period to identify and address any necessary improvements.”

Coleman told Parliament that the costs to families of going digital will vary, depending on location and the equipment people need, but 77 percent of New Zealand households already have digital television, he says.

“The government is yet to take any decisions on the possible form of an assistance package.”

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