New Zealand scraps 5G auction and opts to allocate spectrum directly to operators

Published: 13 May 2020 - 10:43 a.m.

The New Zealand government has decided to forego its proposed 5G auction, opting instead to allocate spectrum directly to the country’s mobile network operators at a knock down price.

The move was prompted by the economic uncertainty accompanying the global Coronavirus pandemic.

The government has allocated 60 MHz of 3.5 GHz spectrum each to Spark and 2Degrees, whilst Dense Air has been allocated 40 MHz. Vodafone has not yet been allocated any 5G spectrum, although it already launched 5G services using its existing spectrum earlier this year.

Operators will be charged NZ$250,000 per ($150,000) per 10 MHz of spectrum.

“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.

The move is a sign of the New Zealand government’s desire to safeguard its growing digital economy, with analysts a recent study compiled by the NERA Economic Consulting group estimating that the rollout of 5G in New Zealand could be worth between $5.7 billion and $8.9 billion per year.

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