4G spectrum auction in third quarter, no iwi allocation

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The government will auction allocations for the radio spectrum band being set aside for fourth-generation, or 4G, mobile phones in the third quarter of the year, but won’t have a sweetener for iwi.

Communications Minister Amy Adams said the auction process for the 700 megahertz bandwidth coming free from the switch-over to digital television broadcasting has been approved by Cabinet, and the blocks will be set according to the Asia Pacific Telecommunity band plan.

The auction design will be organised over the next few months, she said.

“The use of mobile broadband services is growing at an enormous rate in New Zealand,” Adams said in a statement.

“Fast, reliable access to mobile broadband is enabling improvements in productivity and ease of business, and providing new applications for consumers.”

In 2010, the government accelerated the elimination of analogue TV broadcasting in the 700 MHz range, with the digital switchover to be completed by the end of this year.

Freeing up use of that spectrum will provide a $1.1 billion to $2.4 billion boost to the economy over 20 years from cheaper deployment of mobile networks, according to Ministry of Economic Development research.

Adams didn’t set aside a specific allocation for Maori, and will instead look at setting up a $30 million ICT development fund looking at how government can help Maori leverage potential benefits from new technologies.

Third-generation radio spectrum was set aside for Maori in the last major auction in 2000 under the Labour-led administration, which was the foundation for mobile phone operator Two Degrees Mobile.

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