5G on track for 2020: 3.5 GHz spectrum the first available

The first allocation of 5G spectrum will be the 3.5 GHz band, with national rights to this portion of the spectrum expected to be auctioned early in 2020, Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Hon Kris Faafoi announced today.

“We are on track and keeping pace with other countries: with the spectrum being progressively allocated, companies can start rolling out 5G from 2020.

“While spectrum allocations occur, we will concurrently be working with Māori to address the radio spectrum-related Treaty of Waitangi issues. Until this work has been completed, we will not be able to provide details of the 3.5 GHz spectrum that will be available for auction,” Kris Faafoi says.

National spectrum rights in the 3.5 GHz band will be available to use from November 2022 when the existing rights in this band expire. With the agreement of the existing rights holder, an operator may be able to use the rights earlier.

Interested parties will be able to have their say on the auction process for the 3.5 GHz band through consultation, expected in the second half of 2019.

“Spectrum in this band will also be available to regional wireless broadband service providers. In the future, national spectrum rights will open the door to higher connection speeds and greater network capacity, while regional providers will be key to helping rural communities access higher quality wireless broadband,” Kris Faafoi says.

Allocation details of regional spectrum rights are expected to be announced later this year.

“The government’s next priority is allocation of other segments of the spectrum for 5G in the millimetre wave bands, and details on that will be shared later this year.”