Digital switchover – frequency allocations

  • Steven Joyce
Communications and Information Technology

Communications and Information Technology Steven Joyce has confirmed the initial frequency allocation boundaries for long term use of the present UHF television bands after digital switchover (DSO).

This follows a consultation process involving the release of a discussion document - Digital Futures: Planning for Digital Television and New Uses for which 48 submissions were received.

"These decisions will enable New Zealand to realize the productivity and economic benefits of emerging radio technologies, as well as helping to bring fast broadband to rural parts of the country," says Mr Joyce

The spectrum between 502 MHz and 694 MHz is to be allocated for digital television use and the spectrum between 694 MHz and 806 MHz be allocated for new uses.

"This will allow New Zealanders to have access to significantly faster and better mobile broadband services as new fourth generation (4G) mobile phone and broadband services are implemented" says Mr Joyce.

"For viewers, digital television means better quality picture and sound as well as increased choice in programmes and services.

"While it is inappropriate to prejudge the actual DSO date at this stage, it is important that key decisions are made so planning work can proceed with certainty.  One issue will be to determine whether some regional television analogue services can continue for a limited time after DSO without compromising the Government's overall objectives."

These are the initial decisions necessary for planning of both the television and non-television uses to proceed over the next year or two.  This will need to reflect both the growth of the existing Freeview platform and other commercial services, as well as the emerging international availability of standards and equipment for new mobile usage.

There will also be a consultation process with Te Pūtahi Paoho to provide greater certainty to MTS of spectrum capacity for the purpose of protecting and promoting the Māori language and culture, in the context of the review of the Māori Television Service Act 2003.  This recognises that the current spectrum rights expire in 2013.

There are also consequential changes necessary for radio microphone use which will now be planned in conjunction with other planning work.  Changes to frequency usage by radio amateurs will also be implemented after DSO.

Specific details regarding these decisions will be published on the Ministry of Economic Development's radio spectrum website: