As part of the Government’s commitment to improve rural connectivity, Cabinet has agreed to provide long-term access to the 3.5GHz spectrum band through a direct allocation process. Subject to contract negotiations, the direct allocation of spectrum will be provided in exchange for investment from all parties involved and will see the market value of this spectrum be delivered through:
- Faster availability of 5G to small towns across New Zealand, leveraging the existing capability and networks of our major mobile network operators and infrastructure partners.
- Further investment in rural connectivity including through the Rural Connectivity Group, which has been partnering with government for a number of years to improve rural connectivity.
Network operators have been rolling out 5G over the last 2 years, using the 3.5 GHz spectrum band – the first band to be allocated specifically for high-speed 5G services. The Government provided short-term early access to this spectrum in 2020, to enable Aotearoa New Zealand’s 5G roll-out to begin.
Access to the current short-term rights expires at the end of October 2022. As part of this process, these rights will be extended from 1 November 2022 until 30 June 2023, to allow network operators to continue their roll-out of 5G and to provide continuity for regional services.
The details of this long-term allocation will continue to be worked through over the coming months as the Crown negotiates final contracts with the parties involved.