BCL-WW settlement: politics didn't come into it

After stating that a wrangle over spectrum licensing terms couldn't be solved by arbitration, BCL has reached an out-of-court settlement with wireless network provider Walker Wireless.

BCL spokesperson Anna Radford says there has been "absolutely no" political pressure on BCL and Walker Wireless to reach a settlement over BCL's application for a judicial review of the way Walker Wireless was awarded a radio frequency licence.

"The government regards it as an operational issue and there has been no influence at all on the parties to settle."

State-owned BCL applied last month for a judicial review of the awarding to Walker Wireless of spectrum in the 2GHz band, alleging the way the terms of the licence were spelled out didn't provide assurance to BCL that Walker Wireless' equipment wouldn't interfere with BCL's.

Technically, the issue is about the coexistence of FDD (frequency division duplexing), used by BCL, and TDD (time division duplexing), used by Walker Wireless. The two technologies separate receiving and transmitting channels in different ways.

BCL claims it was driven to seek the review following a breakdown in negotiations over the matter. In its review application, BCL named Robert Vernall, the radio engineer who certified the licence and the Ministry of Economic Development as defendants, as well as Walker Wireless.

BCL's Radford says the action against all defendants has been discontinued after "some fairly intensive discussions" in the past couple of weeks.

At a media briefing earlier this month, BCL managing director Geoff Lawson said arbitration wasn't an option and the review had been sought because the only way out of the impasse was to have an independent third party look at the way the licence was awarded.

Radford says BCL and Walker Wireless will be getting together with the ministry to develop appropriate wording for the licence and ensure the appropriate information is on it to avoid interference.

A spokesperson for communications minister Paul Swain says the minister is "very pleased to see that BCL and Walker Wireless appear to be working towards a settlement and that it will be in the best interests of consumers".

There was fear a long, drawn-out court process could slow the awarding of contracts in Project Probe, the national broadband rollout funded by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economic Development.

Walker Wireless has beaten a BCL-Telecom consortium to the first three Probe contracts, in Northland, Southland and the Wairarapa.

Walker Wireless managing director Bob Smith was unavailable for comment.

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