The Government will sign contracts with major telecommunications network operators today to speed up the rollout of 5G to regional towns across New Zealand.
Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, Ginny Andersen said the Government was committed to ensuring that everyone in New Zealand can get access to good mobile wireless coverage – no matter where you are.
“The Government has struck a bespoke deal with New Zealand’s three major network operators – Spark, 2Degrees and One New Zealand – which will deliver a faster roll-out of 5G services to around 55 rural and regional towns across New Zealand and provide mobile wireless coverage to further rural black spot areas,” she said.
“By working together with our major mobile network operators many more Kiwis will gain access to 5G services quicker, which is expected to provide faster data transmission speeds and capacity compared to 4G.
“As part of this new agreement, our three major mobile network operators must increase the pace of the 5G roll-out to small towns across New Zealand and to continue their efforts to further expand mobile wireless coverage in rural areas.”
Minister Andersen said the deal was a huge step forward for connectivity in rural New Zealand.
“By working together with our telecommunications operators more Kiwis will have access to faster wireless mobile services,” she said.
In return for the commitments from the major network operators the Government will provide long-term access to the 3.5GHz spectrum band, used for 5G services worldwide, through a direct allocation process. This exchange provides an opportunity to expand and improve coverage to regional and rural New Zealand.
New Zealand’s three major operators will each receive 80 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band. This is sufficient spectrum for all three MNOs to operate nation-wide 5G networks.
The Interim Māori Spectrum Commission will receive 100 MHz of spectrum. The Interim Māori Spectrum Commission will manage this spectrum, on behalf of all Māori.
This agreement builds on other Government investment, including the $60 million allocated through Budget 2022 for rural connectivity improvements, as well as the $47 million of rural capacity upgrades that commenced in February 2022.
“I am certain that Kiwis, especially those living in regional and rural areas, will soon reap the benefits coming out of this allocation,” said Ms Andersen.
- Long-term rights to the 3.5GHz spectrum band for 5G services will come into effect from 1 July 2023, as the short-term rights that were extended in October 2022 come to an end.
- In return for the allocated spectrum, Spark, One New Zealand and 2Degrees will each pay the government $24 million between 2023 and 2025. This funding will be used to pay the Rural Connectivity Group to expand mobile coverage into areas of rural New Zealand which would not otherwise have been provided with coverage commercially (for example, rural areas where there are mobile black spots). This funding is additional to the value of the works required to provide 5G to towns.
- Dense Air New Zealand, which is a current interim holder of 3.5GHz spectrum rights and had previously been in negotiations with the government for long-term rights to the 3,5 GHz spectrum, has since decided to withdraw from the process.
- Further information is available on the Radio Spectrum Management website: Preparing for 5G in New Zealand | Radio Spectrum Management New Zealand (rsm.govt.nz).
- Indicative list of towns that will receive additional coverage:
|Town Name||Population at last Census|