Thursday 14 May 2020

Dense Air, Spark and 2degrees get 5G Spectrum in New Zealand

Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) is a business unit within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in New Zealand.

On its website, RSM announced that In May 2020, the commercial auction for early access to the 3.5 GHz band designed for 5G was cancelled. Instead, a direct allocation process will be undertaken. Offers will be made of 40 MHz to Dense Air, 60 MHz to Spark, and 60 MHz to 2degrees.

In December 2019 the Government approved the allocation, via auction, of short-term rights to an unused portion of the 3.5 GHz band (3590 – 3750 MHz). These rights were to be allocated as national management rights for a term beginning mid-2020 until 31 October 2022.

Total Telecom provides additional details on this:

New Zealand’s 5G spectrum auction was initially scheduled for February this year, but the coronavirus outbreak forced the process to be delayed until the end of May.

With this deadline approaching, however, the government has made the decision to ditch the auction process, and instead simply allocate the 3.5 GHz spectrum. Telcos are being offered spectrum at the low fixed price of NZ$250,000 per 10 MHz of bandwidth.

Incumbent Spark has announced that it will receive 60 MHz of spectrum, with 2degrees also receiving the same amount. Dense Air has been allocated 40 MHz.

Rival Vodafone has seemingly not been allocated any spectrum, since the operator has already launched 5G using existing frequencies.

On its website, Spark said:

Spark today welcomed the announcement of the direct allocation process of 5G spectrum, with the Company to be offered management rights to 60 MHz of 3.5 GHz (or C Band) spectrum.

Spark CEO Jolie Hodson said the allocation enables a significant investment in 5G infrastructure across the country over the coming year, which will play a critical role in New Zealand’s response to and recovery from Covid-19.

“Over time 5G will fundamentally transform how we work, learn and connect as a country and act as a catalyst for innovation with emerging technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality and the Internet of Things (IoT),” said Hodson. 

Work done for Spark by NERA Economic Consulting estimates that the rollout of 5G in New Zealand could add between $5.7 billion and $8.9 billion per year to the New Zealand economy over the next 10 years.

“Our recovery from Covid-19 is a long game, and it has never been more important to improve our productivity as a country and ensure we are well positioned to adapt to new ways of working. And in a world where physical distancing will remain critical for some time, technologies that connect people virtually have a fundamental role to play in our economic recovery,” continued Hodson.

“Securing 3.5GHz spectrum was critical for the rollout of a full suite of 5G services, so we would like to acknowledge the Government for facilitating the allocation, which will enable us to proceed with our planned 5G roll out at pace. 

“We plan to switch on 5G sites in a number of major centres and regions across the North and South islands over the next year. To maintain this momentum, we are keen to work with Government to accelerate the timeline for the longer-term spectrum auction, which is currently scheduled for November 2022.”

Spark will announce further details about its roll out plans in due course.

On its website, Dense Air said:

Dense Air is a provider of small cell services with spectrum assets in New Zealand. In April it loaned Vodafone its 2.6GHz spectrum for three months.

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