New Zealand to auction 4G spectrum

WELLINGTON Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:02pm EST

WELLINGTON Feb 21 (Reuters) - New Zealand will auction radio spectrum for new fourth-generation telecommunications services later this year, the government said on Thursday without indicating how much it expects to raise from the sale.

The auction, to be held in the third quarter, will be for blocks of the 700 Megahertz band, which will be free after the switch-off of analogue television signals.

The frequencies can be used for ultrafast mobile broadband services, at speeds up to 10 times faster than currently available, enabling smartphone and tablet users to make video calls and consume more content.

"Indications are that by using the spectrum for 4G mobile networks, we can expect economic benefits for New Zealand of up to NZ$2.4 billion ($2.01 billion) over the next 20 years," said Information Technology Minister Amy Adams.

New Zealand has three mobile operators, Telecom Corp Ltd which has been trialling Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile technology, British-based Vodafone Plc and private operator 2-Degrees.

The government has given no estimate as to how much it thinks might raise from the auction.

This week, Britain's telecoms regulator Ofcom said an auction of 4G spectrum had raised less than expected.

($1 = 1.1952 New Zealand dollars) (Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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