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Government promotes wireless broadband investment

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Communications

Government promotes wireless broadband investment

The government's decision to reallocate spectrum for wireless broadband is another essential step in providing New Zealanders with better, more competitive access to broadband, says Communications Minister David Cunliffe.

The decision will see spectrum in the 2.3 GHz range – suitable for such emerging wireless broadband applications as WiMAX – put up for auction in early 2007.

While current right-holders do not have to give up their rights before they expire in 2010, some may choose to do so. It is expected that some of the 2.3 GHz spectrum could be available for development immediately after the auction, enabling early development of new broadband wireless services.

Other decisions include making a 16MHz block as a "managed park" suitable for local and regional broadband operations, and developing policies to facilitate future use of other spectrum suitable for broadband wireless access (BWA).

Along with the other recent measures to develop a vibrant, competitive ICT sector, the availability of additional broadband wireless spectrum will help unlock the potential of these new technologies, and aid New Zealand's economic transformation into an innovative and creative knowledge-based economy.

"This decision reflects the fairest and most effective way of giving new and existing wireless broadband services providers the opportunity to develop this very important spectrum for broadband in New Zealand," Mr Cunliffe said.

"BWA technology for this band is only just starting to become available. It is critical that we create the right conditions for its future deployment by giving a wide range of players the opportunity and the certainty they need to make a long-term investment."

"How we run the process and allocate the rights will obviously be critical. A spectrum cap of 30 MHz per operator – which generally accepted industry standards indicate would be ample – would ensure at least three separate lots of spectrum will be on offer. Successful purchasers will be required to implement services within a specified period."

This announcement reaffirms a 2004 government decision that existing rights would not be renewed when they expire in 2010. It follows public consultation in which industry feedback showed strong support for immediate reallocation of this spectrum.

Contact: David McLoughlin, 04 471 9067 or 021 227 9067

Background information: Summary of decisions

Allocation of the 2.3 GHz spectrum

Up to eight 10 MHz-wide management rights in the 2.3 GHz band will be reallocated by auction as soon as is practicable. A 16 MHz block will be made available as a managed spectrum park from 2010, or earlier if available.

The Ministry of Economic Development expects to conduct the auction in the first quarter of 2007, with the following conditions:

· a spectrum cap of 30 MHz per operator will apply for two years from the date of allocation; and · right-holders will be required to implement services within a specified period or face revocation. Subject to discussions with right-holders for early relinquishment of their current 2.3 GHz spectrum rights, some of the auctioned spectrum rights will be available for use immediately after the auction, while a smaller amount may not become available until current rights expire in 2010.

Transition plan for 2.5 GHz spectrum

Spectrum at 2.5 GHz is suitable for BWA technology in a manner equivalent to the 2.3 GHz band, but the band is currently used for television outside broadcasting (e.g. linking back to the studio). The Ministry will develop and implement a transition plan, in consultation with stakeholders, to make this band available for future BWA allocation, once technical parameters have been determined at the World Radio Conference in 2007.

New General User Licences at 5.4 GHz and 60 GHz

The Ministry intends to create a general user licence ('public park' licence) to facilitate the deployment of BWA services at 5.4 GHz by June 2007, subject to suitable protection for existing radar applications in the band.

A general user licence will also be issued for BWA services at 60 GHz by June 2007, with conditions that balance technical neutrality with spectrum utility and efficiency.

70, 80, 90 GHz and other bands

There are at present no policies for licensing of the 70, 80 and 90 GHz bands, but interest in using these bands for BWA is becoming evident. In anticipation of future demand, the Ministry is developing policy proposals for these bands.

There is some interest in other bands, including projected changes to the existing 921 to 929 MHz general user licence and the 10.5 GHz bands. Policy and technical work for these bands is continuing.

ENDS

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