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Paul Swain Address To The 7th Meeting Of ITU

Hon Paul Swain Speech Notes

Opening Address by Hon Paul Swain, Minister of Communications, to the 7th meeting of ITU – R Working Party 8F - Queenstown 1000.


Thank you Mr Chairman for that gracious introduction.

I am very pleased to be here in Queenstown this morning to welcome delegates to this meeting of Working Party 8F of Study Group 8 within the International Telecommunication Union – Radiocommunications Sector.

New Zealand has a long and proud history of involvement in wireless communications. Being an island nation, with the Pacific Ocean, the Tasman Sea and the great Southern Ocean separating us from our closest neighbours, New Zealand embraced radio technology as a very early adopter.

Our membership in the International Telecommunication Union stems back to 1878 when regulation of wired telegraph services was its primary function.

Only two years after Marconi’s historic transatlantic transmission in 1901, our nation began regulating wireless communications by way of the New Zealand Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1903. The first public demonstration of radio in New Zealand was at the 1906 International Exhibition in Christchurch.

Since that time, New Zealand has continued to maintain a keen interest and involvement in the affairs of the Union and I am proud to be reflecting that interest in welcoming you here today.

New Zealanders have always shown a willingness to take up new technology rapidly. This is no doubt due to our pioneering past and the vast distances that have previously kept us separated from developments and markets overseas. These distances are no longer an impediment to our participation, and indeed, our relative location in the world has significant advantages.

With the growing transformation of the world’s economies towards knowledge and information-based societies, New Zealand has come into its own in terms of its potential as a test-bed for new technologies and new products. Our geographic isolation from traditional markets, our rugged topography, our multi-cultural highly educated population and an even-handed regulatory environment, has meant that New Zealand is a competitive first choice for the development, test and rollout of new Information and Communications Technologies (ICT’s).

Indeed a number of the major companies represented here today, such as Ericsson, have production and testing facilities located in New Zealand.

It is important in a country as small as ours, with a population of only 3.8 million people, that industry and government combine their resources and work together in partnership to bring benefits to the community. This Government has set up a new agency, Industry New Zealand, to help facilitate partnership with and growth in industry in our country.

One of the early examples of Industry New Zealand’s involvement was its work and assistance in the establishment of the joint venture partnership between Ericsson and Synergy in New Zealand. The new partnership’s by-line is, “Leading Our Clients to the Mobile Internet World”. Ericsson Synergy is one of many New Zealand technology service providers that stand to benefit from the innovative work undertaken by you at this Queenstown meeting.

The partnership between government and industry in New Zealand has also been reflected over the years in our approach to radio regulatory issues and the ITU. At the last World Radio Conference in Istanbul, the New Zealand delegation included members from the Ministry of Economic Development, Telecom New Zealand, Vodafone New Zealand, Broadcast Communications Limited, Added Value Applications Limited and the New Zealand Defence Force. I believe all these organisations are also present at this meeting.

I would like to take this very special opportunity to thank them, along with the other members of the New Zealand ITU Radiocommunications Sector Group, for their long history of contribution to New Zealand’s very highly regarded, professional reputation in the ITU.

At this point it is also appropriate that I make mention of the partnership and collaboration between government and industry in the hosting of this event. In particular, I would like to recognise and thank our local sponsors; Ericsson New Zealand Limited, Telecom New Zealand Limited and Broadcast Communications Limited, a subsidiary of Television New Zealand Limited.

This month the government released the Growth and Innovation framework for New Zealand - it’s aim is to return New Zealand's per capita income to the top half of the OECD rankings and maintain that standing.

To do this we must become a nation known internationally for our innovation, our creativity, our skills and our lifestyle.

The predominant word in the framework is innovation and there are two kinds of innovation - product innovation and process innovation. We want both kinds in New Zealand.

The Growth and Innovation Framework has identified three key sectors to start with - ICT, biotechnology and the creative sector

Those three have been chosen because they are fundamental to all other sectors - and all regions of NZ - it goes back to that process and product innovation I was talking about earlier.

As our Prime Minister, Helen Clark recently pointed out, “information and communications technology helps drive the modernisation of the entire economic and social infrastructure and is an essential part of making e-commerce a reality.”

The success of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film production here in New Zealand provides a model whereby a local creative industry made use of highly advanced ICT in the field. Working with Telecom New Zealand as service provider and licensed by the Ministry of Economic Development, the film crew employed sophisticated satellite communications technology to transmit raw footage from the many remote geographic filming locations in New Zealand directly to the production studios. This enabled editing and computer enhancement work to begin immediately the footage was shot.

In terms of innovation, our radiocommunications regulatory regime proudly boasts a number of world firsts.

New Zealand deregulated its telecommunications industry in the late 1980s. The Radiocommunications Act 1989, introduced the first tradable spectrum access rights legislation in the world. New Zealand led in the transformation of spectrum allocation from the ‘beauty contest’ to the market-based allocation methodology.

Our first spectrum tender, for UHF television frequencies, was conducted in 1989. Cellular spectrum rights at 800 – 900 MHz were subsequently tendered in 1990.

New Zealand was the first country to conduct an internet-based spectrum auction in January of 1998, with the objective of providing more market transparency through better information as to disclosure of market pricing throughout the allocation process.

New Zealand operates, as far as possible, a technology neutral regulatory regime. This affords both providers and users of services, maximum flexibility in terms of choosing the technology that best suits their needs.

For instance, in cellular markets, New Zealand consumers can choose between GSM, AMPS analogue, AMPS digital and CDMA service technologies.

Last year, the Government successfully auctioned blocks of spectrum between
1.7 and 2.3 gigahertz. Acquisition limits were imposed on bands suited to the 3rd generation mobile services, whereby no one company could acquire more than 15 megahertz of spectrum in the core IMT-2000 bands.

Aside from the acquisition limit, no other regulatory imposition was placed on the use of these bands. The new services can be rolled out by the spectrum owners using the technology of their choice, at the time of their choice and in the geographic locations of their choice.

Having observed 3G allocations in other countries, where in some cases very high prices were paid for the spectrum, and where rollout and coverage mandates have proved difficult to meet, the New Zealand Government is well pleased with its outcome in terms of 3G allocation to date.

Competition was facilitated via the initial acquisition limits with a total of four companies winning between 10 and 15 megahertz of spectrum, and a realistic market price was paid for the spectrum rights lasting 20 years. The outcome is that our mobile service providers going forward will be well placed to invest in infrastructure and will have adequate time to recover these costs in a healthy, competitive economy. They will not be under the pressures of many of their northern counterparts to recover spectrum access costs. This should bring more efficient and lower cost services to consumers.

Also recognising the public good aspects of the radio spectrum resource, a further block of 3G spectrum was reserved by the Government, for sale, on a discounted basis, to the Maori Spectrum Trust. This Trust was established to facilitate the involvement of Maori in the ICT industry through an initiative of corporate self-governance and commercial industry partnership.

The Government has also announced its plans to reserve spectrum for the rollout of wireless broadband services to our rural communities, particularly for situations where wireline access is uneconomic. The fact that www is more likely to mean “world-wide-wait” rather than World Wide Web to people in some of our rural communities is not lost on this Government.

Our target is that by 2004 the Internet will be the dominant means of enabling ready access to government information, services and processes. Reserving some spectrum should help us achieve that target.

Specifically, we will reserve two blocks of spectrum for Wireless Local Loop in the 3.4 to 3.6 gigahertz band to allow licensing on defined terms, in particular areas. This reservation will further the Government's commitment to regional development, and in particular, aims to ensure that all New Zealand communities are able to access two-way high speed Internet services by the end of 2003.

People want communications wherever they are, whenever they want. I understand that as this Working Party considers services beyond IMT-2000, you will be exploring concepts such as 4th generation communications where, for example, a mobile phone might act as a control node for selecting the most appropriate access or technology route depending on the nature of the transmission.

Additionally, I understand that you have considered mobility requirements by mass transport users, whereby passengers on trains and aeroplanes may want high-speed data connections while in-transit. The ideas you develop into regulatory text may eventually enable connection of those users to a central communications node on the moving craft, which subsequently uses another part of the spectrum or another standard to communicate with a node in the outside environment.

It is not difficult to conceive of a time when credit and identity cards are replaced by mobile phone identifiers, thereby integrating e-commerce and ICT within the telecommunications infrastructure.

Given the impact of your work on the future of mobile communications, New Zealand is particularly proud for this opportunity to provide a venue for such innovation. This meeting and subsequent meetings within the auspices of the ITU will be pivotal to the faster establishment of improved telecommunications and information services.

I understand that this is the 7th and last in a series of meetings before you report to your parent Study Group with recommendations for its consideration when preparing text for the World Radio Conference preparatory meeting in Geneva this coming November.

People throughout the world are waiting in anticipation of the arrival of the new services promised from the foundations of the equipment standards and spectrum planning you will be undertaking here over the next few days. This anticipation applies not only to communities that are disadvantaged in terms of access to services in rural and developing areas, but also to those working in industries in developed regions, where fast, multiple application, mobile services are required to run modern businesses.

I would like to wish you well in your work and I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in this part of the world and take advantage of some of the great attractions New Zealand has to offer.

Thank you.

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