The Government has today announced it is working with New Zealand’s major telecommunications network operators to accelerate the roll-out of 5G services and improve rural connectivity.
Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark said as the result of a new agreement, many more New Zealanders will gain access to the speed, capacity and reliability of 5G services.
Radio spectrum underpins all wireless technology – including the roll-out of 5G mobile services. Access to spectrum has previously been sold to telecommunications providers via an auction, but this agreement will bypass that process in favour of a direct allocation method, the Minister said.
“Network operators have been launching 5G over the last two years, using the 3.5 GHz spectrum band – the first band to be allocated specifically for high-speed 5G services. The Government provided short-term early access to this spectrum in 2020, to enable the country’s 5G roll-out to begin,” said Mr Clark.
“With the expiry of short-term rights on the horizon, long-term rights must be allocated.
“As part of the new agreement, our three major mobile network operators – Spark, 2degrees and Vodafone – will be required to increase the pace of the 5G roll-out to small towns across New Zealand. There is also an expectation they will continue efforts to improve rural connectivity.”
Shared network infrastructure provider, Dense Air, will also have access to the 3.5 GHz spectrum band as part of this deal – helping network operators serve the hardest to reach parts of the country.
“The agreement complements other Government investment, including $60 million for rural connectivity allocated through Budget 2022 and $47 million towards the Rural Capacity Upgrades I announced in February 2022,” Minister Clark said.
The details of this long-term allocation will continue to be worked through over the coming months as the Crown negotiates final contracts with the parties involved, the Minister said.
Further information is available on the Radio Spectrum Management website.