Telecom New Zealand has confirmed that it will be bidding in the country’s 700-MHz auction that is expected to take place at the end of October.
The incumbent carrier said it is already well advanced in building its 4G network in major urban areas using 1800-MHz spectrum and will be launching 4G services for customers in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch before the end of the year.
But 1800-MHz spectrum is not particularly well suited for use outside major urban areas. In less densely populated areas, the broader coverage range of lower frequency spectrum enables a 4G network to be built with less cell site infrastructure, significantly improving the network economics, chief executive Simon Moutter said in a statement.
Moutter said the operator hopes to use the 700-MHz spectrum as the backbone of its 4G network.
“If we are successful in the auction, we will begin deploying it and bringing 4G speeds to the rest of New Zealand as soon as we can source the handsets that can support it. Current indications are that suitable devices will start becoming available in mid to late calendar 2014 at the earliest,” he noted.
The 700-MHz spectrum band, previously used for analogue broadcast services, is expected to allow mobile operators to provide 4G mobile broadband services – already being built in New Zealand’s main cities – much more extensively in New Zealand, including in less densely populated areas.
“In order to encourage rapid development of 4G services and deliver the greatest benefit to consumers and the broader New Zealand economy we believe the auction process should aim to deliver an outcome that assists investment in a rapid and extensive rollout of 4G network services,” Moutter noted.
The New Zealand government will commence the 4G auction on October 29 and will sell 700-MHz licenses, with nine lots of 2x5 MHz on offer, for a reserve price of NZ$22 million ($17.6 million).