NZ cellcos slam Chorus' 5G proposal

11 Dec 2017

New Zealand's mobile operators have rubbished wholesale operator Chorus' proposal that the nation should deploy a shared, government-backed 5G infrastructure.

Chorus, which is building the bulk of the state-backed Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) wholesale fiber broadband initiative, last week proposed that the UFB model should be applied to a 5G rollout.

Chorus argued that 5G networks will require dense infrastructure and it will not be cost-effective for operators acting alone to deploy the required density, so if left to market competition a national rollout would be unsustainable.

But Vodafone New Zealand has called the proposal “self-serving and misleading” in a strongly-worded statement, the National Business Review reported.

Spark - which was split off from Chorus during the separation of the former Telecom NZ's retail and wholesale operations, meanwhile suggested that the proposal would create a monopoly - which the operator said should be always be a last resort option for a market, not a first resort.

Meanwhile 2degrees has insisted that infrastructure competition between the market's mobile operators is robust and that this would not be possible if they were sharing a common network.

The common thread of the mobile operators' objections is that the conditions that required state intervention to encourage a national fiber network rollout with the UFB project – a near monopoly on the fixed broadband market that had been held Telecom NZ – simply are not present in New Zealand's mobile industry.

The mobile operators' objections to the proposal call into question Chorus CEO Kate McKenzie's assertion that she was finding telecoms industry members to be receptive to the idea of a shared 5G infrastructure model.

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