Tough rules to apply in radio auction

Tough anti-dominance rules will be applied for the next government auction of 2Ghz radio spectrum, likely to be held in June.

Tough anti-dominance rules will be applied for the next government auction of 2Ghz radio spectrum, likely to be held in June.

Minister of Commerce Paul Swain -- who is still convalescing after his collapse last Christmas - said in a recent interview he did not want Treaty of Waitangi concerns nor the economic muscle of the larger carriers to blight the next auction. But it was the latter that had led the new government to postpone the auction.

"My concern has always been that no one player - and I'm talking about many potential international bidders here - would be able to buy up all that spectrum."

Acting Minister of Commerce Trevor Mallard said last week that this will be avoided by insisting that no player can buy more than one block of 15 Mhz of bandwidth. It has not yet been decided whether three or four such blocks will be sold. A minimum number of years will be set down, within which bandwidth will be on-sellable and transferable but no dominant player may be created.

The auction, which is for spectrum to be used in third-generation mobile services, was due to be held at the end of January but was delayed while competition issues were sorted out. Third generation mobile devices need the spectrum to offer high-speed data and video links as well as voice.

"Good progress is being made on resolving competition and other issues, and I hope to announce a date for the auction within a couple of weeks," says Mallard.

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