Wellington - Vodafone and Telecom are pressing for the government to set aside analogue radio frequencies used by television channels to allow ultra-fast broadband for mobile phones.
The Ministry of Economic Development has unveiled a scoping plan for its review of the broadcasting frequencies before it considers advice to the Government at the end of this year on life after analogue TV. With up to 56 percent of New Zealanders watching television through digital signals - on Sky TV or Freeview - the Government is hastening the analogue switch-off planned for between 2012 and 2015.
Once broadcasters have vacated the bulk of the analogue Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and Very High Frequency (VHF) bands, they can be auctioned. Some frequencies will be retained for the shift to digital and they do have other uses but with well-resourced companies such as Telecom and Vodafone ready to compete for frequencies, the Government review will focus on mobile communications.
The frequencies would allow telcos to provide an improved internet service to mobile phone users. Many believe that a 2012 switchover is not viable but Telecom and Vodafone are pushing for that date.
Telecom spokesman Mark Watts said: “Any delay in allocating the spectrum may have a material cost to consumers.'' Vodafone spokesman Paul Brislen said that by 2012 it was hoped most New Zealanders would have made the shift to digital television. Communications Minister Steven Joyce said allocating the frequencies for mobile phones was not a fait accompli.