New Zealand, after postponing a 5G spectrum auction, announced the direct allocation of airwaves in the 3.5GHz band, with Spark and 2degrees each to be offered the rights to 60MHz and Dense Air 40MHz.
The government put the sale of an unusued portion of 3.5GHz band on ice last week due to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Prices of the allocations were not disclosed, but the reserve price had previously been set at NZD250,000 ($152,279) per 10MHz lot.
In a statement, Spark CEO Jolie Hodson said the allocation will enable significant investment in 5G infrastructure across the country over the coming year, noting securing the spectrum was critical for the rollout of a full suite of services and will enable the operator to swiftly proceed.
She said it plans to switch on 5G sites in a number of major centres and regions across the North and South islands.
“To maintain this momentum, we are keen to work with government to accelerate the timeline for the longer-term spectrum auction, which is currently scheduled for November 2022,” she added.
Hodson said the new spectrum will play a critical role in the country’s response to Covid-19, noting “it has never been more important to improve our productivity as a country and ensure we are well positioned to adapt to new ways of working”.
Spark turned on 5G service in Alexandra for a limited number of enterprise and consumer customers in September 2019, later expanding to five additional South Island towns and communities, using the 2.6GHz band.
The recent sale was planned after the government agreed to free up additional 5G spectrum, after operators called for early access to 160MHz in the 3.5GHz band.
Vodafone Zealand did not apply to participate in the auction, so wasn’t allocated spectrum.
Dense Air is a provider of small cell services with spectrum assets in New Zealand. In April it loaned Spark its 2.6GHz spectrum for three months.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back