Confusion reigns over the rules regarding the upcoming 2GHz spectrum auction and TUANZ chief executive Ernie Newman says they must be resolved before the sale goes ahead.
Following "representations from the telecommunications industry", Communications Minister Maurice Williamson has postponed the auction of the 2GHz spectrum from December 15 to January 31. This is a positive step, says Newman, "but we're unconvinced there are adequate rules in place to protect users".
After two meetings with government, Newman says Williamson "has undertaken to come back to us with a statement as to why he believes the present rules are adequate".
Under the current rules, successful participants will be looked at by the Commerce Commission but there is no indication of what will happen if the commission decides one player has too much spectrum.
The spectrum available has been split into four lots of 15 MHz bands, of which three will be auctioned and one held back. This fourth segment is supposed to stop one company from owning all available bandwidth, but there has been no explanation of how the reserved segment will be sold.
Williamson and Ministry of Commerce spectrum conversion project manager David Kershaw were all unavailable for comment before Computerworld went to print.
Labour spokeswoman Marian Hobbs says that if Labour is in power, the auction will go ahead "but I'd want to talk it through with Maori". The competition issue will be looked at too, she says, "so we'll have a lot of work to do [before January]. I wish the people who have been in power for the past nine years could have shown some leadership".
Telcos are guarded in their response to the changed date.
Telstra public affairs group manager Karen Barrett says that Telstra "did raise some concerns", but is happy with the outcome. "We have a considerable amount of work to do before the bidding process. But we're happy with the outcome and that's all we have to say."
Clear marketing communications manager Ross Inglis says Clear applauds the delay because "3G has evolved rapidly recently and, like all the other telcos, we need time to review our strategy and look at how we'd use the spectrum. The sums involved are likely to be considerable so we need to carefully consider what we do now."
Val Hayes, Vodafone corporate communications executive, says Vodafone welcomes the decision "because it gives us more time to be properly prepared".