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2nd GSM Network To Be Established In New Zealand

Media Release

26th September 2001

2nd gsm network to be established in New Zealand

Econet Wireless New Zealand (EWNZ) has announced its intent to establish a second GSM cellular phone network in New Zealand.

EWNZ is part of Econet Wireless International, one of the most highly respected niche operators in the global telecommunications market.

EWNZ Director, Tex Edwards says that New Zealanders will soon have the opportunity to take advantage of a second GSM network.

EWNZ has been working to start up a new cellular network in NZ for the past year. Until now, plans to do this have been severely delayed due to the regulatory environment. EWNZ therefore welcomed Paul Swain's announcement last week of the Government's decision that cell site co-location and national roaming should be included in the Telecommunications Bill.

"Without these changes, the New Zealand telecoms market is unlikely to see new investment being made or indeed real competition in the cellular GSM market," says Mr Edwards.

"The mandating of national roaming and co-cell site location in the Telecommunications Bill would mean that we could begin to roll out our network almost immediately. The previous regulatory environment has made this almost impossible," says Mr Edwards. "Without this inclusion, EWNZ could face months, possibly years, of negotiations with the incumbents. We are confident that the proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Bill will go a long way towards preventing a repeat of the Clear v. Telecom drama of the 1990s."

Mr Edwards says he applauds the government for seeking to realign the regulatory environment with that of most European countries, allowing new cellphone operators to enter the market. "This move would ensure that New Zealand's telecommunications market continues to develop at a similar pace to the rest of the world. The international roaming service and technology that EWNZ would offer means that, for the first time in New Zealand's history, there would be uniform technology competition in the cellphone market."

In December 2000 when the telecommunications regulatory reforms were announced, Paul Swain stated that they were "designed to bring greater certainty, investment, competition, opportunity and consumer benefit." This intent could now be achieved with the creation of EWNZ and its announcement that it intends to enter into the market.

"EWNZ saw the NZ market as an ideal opportunity but the regulatory environment was a barrier to investment. Last week's decisions mean that we can now get fully involved," says Mr Edwards.

EWNZ has access to both 2.5 and 3G spectrum blocks. The former is owned by EWNZ and the latter through a commercial arrangement with Hautaki Ltd. Hautaki Ltd holds the right to the 3G spectrum on behalf of all Maori in New Zealand. In return, Hautaki also has the right to become a shareholder in EWNZ. The arrival of EWNZ will mean that New Zealanders can access the benefits already available to other cellphone users around the world.

EWNZ has already established plans for its network and will announce developments to consumers shortly.

ENDS

Released on behalf of EWNZ by Network Communications, Tel. (09) 379 3154

For more information please contact Jane Dodd (025 470 446) or Chris Lydon (025 822 296)


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