New Zealand’s government gave the green light to free up additional 5G spectrum in 2020, heeding operators’ calls for the early release of airwaves in the 3.5GHz band.
The cabinet approved the allocation of short-term rights running from mid-2020 to 31 October 2022, for an unused portion of 160MHz of spectrum, which will be auctioned off in 2020.
Kris Faafoi, Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media minister, said early access to this spectrum will allow the telecoms industry to move forward in developing and deploying 5G services now, rather than waiting until long-term rights are switched-on in November 2022.
“Progressing with 5G will ensure New Zealand keeps pace with global developments, give us world-class connectivity, and provide a platform for exciting new applications which can improve future livelihoods and ways of life.”
Spark, the second-largest operator in the country, launched a limited 5G service using the 2.6GHz band in late September and recently expanded coverage in South Island towns and communities.
Mark Beder, Spark technology director, said last month the operator would prefer to use 3.5GHz spectrum as it believes it will be the primary spectrum band for mass deployment of 5G: “Acquiring enough C-band spectrum is an important requirement for all wireless network operators. As the spectrum is released we’ll be bringing more services, which we’ll roll out over time.”
Last week, Vodafone New Zealand switched on 5G in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.
Tony Baird, technology director, said to reach 1Gb/s speeds it needs approximately 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum, so it will continue to work with the government on the early allocation and auction processes.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back