New Zealand is the latest country to set out rules for an upcoming 4G auction, which will take place at the end of October. It will sell 700-MHz licences, with nine lots of 2x5 MHz on offer, for a reserve price of NZ$22 million ($17.6 million).
The government has spent $157 million clearing the 700-MHz band to allow the spectrum to be used for mobile networks. Bidders will initially be limited to buying no more than three lots each though that may increase to four if some lots are left unsold after the first round.
“In setting the reserve price, we have balanced generating a fair return on the sale of the spectrum rights with the significant investment required by mobile network operators to build the 4G network infrastructure,” said ICT minister Amy Adams. “The reserve price also takes into account the value to New Zealand of having 4G connectivity widely deployed.”
Licence conditions will include requirements for cellcos to upgrade their existing rural sites to LTE within five years; to build a certain number of cells in currently unserved areas; and to reach given overall coverage targets. Carriers which gain three lots must commit to deploying at least five brand new cell sites per year, for five years, and that figure rises to 10 sites a year for operators with four lots.
There will be preferential terms for new entrants to encourage competition in a rather stagnant market – notably, implementation requirements will be less stringent. New players will have five years to cover at least 50% of the population, while existing cellcos will have to upgrade at least 75% of their current rural 2G and 3G base stations to 4G within five years, to a maximum of 300 sites.
Meanwhile, Slovakian regulator TUSR is accepting online bids in its multiband 4G auction, for spectrum in the 800-MHz, 1.8-GHz and 2.6-GHz bands. Bidding will run until October 7 and any winner must commit to covering at least 50% of the population with LTE by the end of 2018.