Feeling the economic pressure from the coronavirus pandemic, the New Zealand government hopes the cheaper spectrum will help boost the nation’s economy
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.
“Securing 3.5 GHz 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," said Spark chief executive Julie Hodson, who noted that the company would be switching on 5G sites over the next year.
Rival Vodafone has seemingly not been allocated any spectrum, since the operator has already launched 5G using existing frequencies.
The decision to remove the auction is a countermeasure against the economic impact of the coronavirus, which is expected to push the nation into a recession. 5G is hoped to be a massive driver of economic recovery, encouraging investment.