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Vodafone annual report embarrasses policy makers

28 July 2006

Media Statement

Vodafone PLC’s annual report embarrasses New Zealand policy makers

Econet Wireless New Zealand (Econet) today commented on Vodafone PLC’s annual report, where Vodafone disclosed it has three GSM mobile phone licenses in New Zealand.

On page 14 of the 152-page annual report, Vodafone discloses that New Zealand is the only country where it has more than one GSM 900 MHz spectrum license. No other company within the Vodafone group has more than one GSM 900 MHz spectrum license.

Econet Chief Project Director, Tex Edwards, described this as “a huge policy bungle for which New Zealand consumers are now paying”.

“The only reason an operator such as Vodafone wants three licenses rather than one, is to block potential competitors from building a network in competition to Vodafone,” said Edwards.

In order to build a network, operators must have access to spectrum. 900 spectrum is critical for delivering low cost rural services and establishing a national network. In New Zealand, the failed spectrum policy has meant that one player, Vodafone, has a monopoly stranglehold on that vital national asset.

Econet appealed to the New Zealand policy makers to consider visiting the Congo in Africa to catch up on the best methods to manage spectrum to create competition. In Kinshasa, in the Congo there are five GSM operators. New Zealand has a lot to learn from the success stories of the African telecommunications boom of the last seven years.

Econet noted that 900 MHz spectrum monopoly has been a very strategic asset during the period mobile phone penetration has gone from 10% to 100%.

Vodafone has a monopoly on the GSM 900 MHz spectrum


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