Britain’s 4G spectrum auction raised a third less than expected. UK telecommunications companies paid £2.3 billion to snap up the extra bandwidth needed to run next generation mobile data networks, that’s £1.2 billion less than the amount penciled-in by the government.
What does this mean for New Zealand’s spectrum sale which will probably take place later this year?
Previously there’s been speculation an open auction of the 700MHz band could raise $200 million. That figure may look ambitious now.
Vodafone and Telecom NZ are both experimenting with 4G services and are likely to bid for the new spectrum. 2Degrees could also take part and smaller players have bid for spectrum in earlier auctions.
The 700Mhz band is a sweet spot for mobile broadband – at those frequencies mobile signals do a better job of reaching through buildings in densely populated areas like central business districts.
As a rule of thumb, the lower the frequency, the higher the value of spectrum to carriers.
There’s also a Māori claim for spectrum which many expect could be used by iwi as a bargaining counter to wrest back some control of 2degrees – although that is not the only course of action open to Māori.
You could argue New Zealand’s carriers paid too much for 3G spectrum in 2001, it’ll be interesting to see how they act this time. While no-one wants to be locked out of 4G, the carriers will be just as wary of overbidding.