New Zealand will become the first country in the world to put to auction the government-owned 26GHz broadband radio spectrum.
Tomorrw the Ministry of Commerce will use the Internet to auction off six lots of 26GHz frequency, which are potentially valuable because they can deliver high-speed Internet access and ultimately high-definition digital TV over cellular networks.
So far the only way to deliver digital TV is via fibre-optic cable.
Other lots to be auctioned are suitable for the delivery of personal communication services.
Between 30 and 40 bidders have registered for the auction, which was originally slated to go ahead last December but was postponed due to what the MOC described as technical reasons.
Ministry of Commerce strategic manager Chris Underwood says the new electronic auction program has undergone extensive time trials and an external audit by Victoria University.
The originally proposed auction was also the subject of legal action, with BellSouth applying for a High Court injunction calling for a halt on the grounds that potential bidders had not had enough time to prepare a bid. However, the auction was postponed before the injunction was ordered.
Telecom, Telstra, BellSouth and Clear have announced an intention to bid.
Now that Telecom has effectively pulled the plug on its cable TV company First Media, the 26GHz lots would provide an alternative way of delivering digital TV and high-speed Internet access.
The auction will be open to the public at http://www.moc.govt.nz/rsm/auction/