New Zealand’s third mobile operator, NZ Communications, has seen its commercial launch delayed yet again and is now not likely to launch until late next year, according to a report in The Independent, a local newspaper. The operator had been planning to launch in October but has reportedly only built 50 basestations, 400 short of what it requires to launch. The report notes that the delay is linked to NZ Communications’ inability to secure a deal to install its equipment at the sites of existing mobile operators, Telecom Mobile and Vodafone New Zealand, a process known as mobile co-location. New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has recently issued draft regulations aimed at fast-tracking mobile co-location but the laws are not due to be finalised until November, the reports says. Cellular News notes that the Commerce Commission is also planning to introduce new rules that will allow operators to start services with just 100 basestations or 10 percent population coverage. Both are currently beyond NZ Communications reach, but will make meeting the launch requirements easier, the report says.
According to Cellular News, NZ Communications signed an agreement last March with China’s Huawei to build its network and at the time said that it would take around 18 months to build-out national coverage. Late last year, the operator also signed a national roaming agreement with Vodafone and acquired spectrum. The New Zealand government is understood to be keen to introduce a third mobile operator in order to break-up the current duopoly enjoyed by Telecom Mobile and Vodafone. According to Wireless Intelligence data, Vodafone had 2.4 million customers in New Zealand by end of second-quarter 2008, while Telecom Mobile had 2.2 million.