Wireless local loop alternatives go under hammer

The next government spectrum auction is about to begin with three main frequency bands up for grabs.

The next government spectrum auction is about to begin with three main frequency bands up for grabs.

Starting on July 23, the new auction will include management rights in the 3.4 to 3.6 GHz region, the 24.5 to 26.4 GHz and also the 890 to 900 MHz band. This last band was previously used for second-generation cellphone networks, like Vodafone's GSM and Telecom's D-AMPS in the early 1990s. However, interference issues forced the band to be abandoned.

The Ministry of Economic Development had kept the band empty as a buffer; new technologies, however, should allow the band to be used more efficiently in the future. A recent MED investigation suggested the frequencies should be opened up for commercial use, so long as the licensees don't interfere with existing services, a provision that applies to all new licence holders.

The 3.4 to 3.6 GHz region is described as being ideal for wireless local loop (WLL) technology, with up to 11 paired blocks, each of 7 MHz bandwidth, being available. Buyers are limited to three lots in this band.

The higher 24.5 to 26.4 GHz is described as ideal for LMDS (local multipoint distribution service), a system for broadband microwave wireless transmission. Up to five paired blocks, each of 168 MHz bandwidth, are potentially available with buyers limited to two blocks each.

So far there are fewer named bidders than the last auction for so-called third-generation spectrum (3G), which closed in February 2001. TelstraClear, Vodafone, Walker Wireless and BCL have all registered along with GSM cellphone network start-up Econet Wireless, Video Networks New Zealand and UCC (2001).

Compass Communications, which has reportedly bought wireless ISP Radionet, and the Counties Power Community Trust have also registered. Potential bidders have until 4pm today to register.

More information on the auction can be found at http://auction.med.govt.nz.

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