WELLINGTON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Telecom New Zealand on Wednesday said it had picked up the management rights to the country’s remaining 700 megahertz spectrum band, allowing the company to roll out 4G mobile services to more rural areas.
Telecom New Zealand paid NZ$83 million ($69 million) for the rights to the final bundle of radio spectrum auctioned by the New Zealand government, significantly more than a total of NZ$66 million it paid for three similar lots in October.
Major competitor Vodafone New Zealand controls three lots of the same size, while mobile phone operator 2degrees has secured two smaller lots in the overall auction process.
“This fourth lot puts Telecom in the best position in the market to deliver a very high-performance 4G mobile network for New Zealand, including in less densely populated areas,” Telecom New Zealand Chief Executive Simon Moutter said in a statement.
He added that the company had paid a premium for the final lot because owning the rights to the largest share of the spectrum would enable it to offer more data at faster speeds.
Share in Telecom edged up 0.6 percent to NZ$2.40 after the announcement.
The spectrum band was freed up after analogue broadcast services in the country were terminated last year, and will allow mobile operators to extend 4G mobile broadband outside the country’s main cities.
Vodafone and Telecom New Zealand have been engaged in a price war for mobile and fixed-line broadband customers as Telecom aims to increase its market share of the mobile market to make up for an ongoing fall in fixed-line customers.
Vodafone controls around 42 percent of the retail mobile market, while Telecom New Zealand has a 37 percent share, followed by 2degrees with 20 percent. The leading pair already offer 4G services in some cities, including Auckland and Wellington.