Vector wades in on 4G spectrum, opposes letting telcos buy more
By Paul McBeth
Nov. 12 (BusinessDesk) – Vector opposes antitrust approval being given to dominant mobile phone operators Telecom and Vodafone New Zealand to buy more radio spectrum set aside for fourth-generation mobile technology, saying it would lock out other potential users in the future.
The Auckland-based electricity, gas and telecommunications lines company says the Commerce Commission should extend its brief in deciding whether to clear Vodafone and Telecom to buy a fourth lot of the 700 megahertz spectrum.
The regulator needs to consider a broader range of users in markets beyond simply telecommunications, Vector says, citing convergence between telecommunications and sectors such as broadcasting, energy, agriculture, finance, retail, health and emergency service applications.
If the regulator doesn’t look beyond cellular operators, it could effectively lock-in the spectrum for almost two decades, Vector regulatory affairs manager Bruce Girdword said in the company’s submission on the clearance applications.
“Imposing limits on the further concentration of spectrum holdings will help ensure that parties who wish to deploy similar or other services would not be prevented from doing so at a future date, or when it makes sense for them to do so operationally, due to the unavailability or prohibitive price of spectrum,” Girdword said.
The regulator is considering applications by the two telecommunications operators to buy a fourth lot of the spectrum if it became available. Both Telecom and Vodafone bought three lots in the government’s auction, while Two Degrees Mobile bought two lots. The government is mulling whether to re-tender the remaining spectrum, or shelve for allocation at a later date.
The spectrum became available when the government decided to switch-off analogue television services, freeing up the radio waves for use on 4G mobile networks.
The Electricity Networks Association, a lobby group for electricity distribution companies, said in a separate submission that the regulator should view the wider value of the spectrum to other infrastructure providers, to ensure communications channels in the event of a civil emergency, and to reserve space for smart network development.
The Radio Network, whose stable of stations include NewstalkZB, ZM and Radio Hauraki, said it wanted the regulator to be aware of potential interference on its broadcast transmitters if best engineering practices aren’t adhered to.