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Unfinished business in NZ 700 MHz band

In Spectrum fight goes on and on Telecommunications Users Association Of New Zealand CEO Paul Brislen reports on the last stage of the 700 MHz spectrum auction:

The Commerce Commission has again delayed giving clearance to Telecom to buy the last block of management rights for 700MHz spectrum.

From the outside, it looks like another set of crossed wires between the Commerce Commission doing its job of promoting market competition and misguided government policy.

As Brislen writes in his blog post, the problem is that Vodafone holds about 300 MHz of wireless spectrum, Telecom NZ has roughly 200 MHz and 2degrees has about 100 MHz. This makes for an uneven market. There’s a danger 2degrees will be effectively shut out leaving New Zealand with two powerful mobile giants and one minnow.

To put things in perspective, that last chunk of unsold spectrum is only a couple of percent of the total.

Even though the 700 MHz band is the wireless equivalent of prime real estate, on its own, it probably isn’t enough to tilt the balance one way or another. On the other hand, if the Commerce Commission wants to start unpicking the lack of competition in the mobile phone spectrum, this would be a good place to start.