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Woosh, NZ government clash over WiMAX rollout

Here is a story from a small corner of the world, but which, as WiMAX spreads, we may encounter more and more closer to our own precincts. Auckland, New Zealand-based operator Woosh wanted to roll out a WiMAX network in New Zealand. The company has acquired blocks of contiguous portions of the spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band, and has entered negotiations with companies which own other blocks in the spectrum, and now believes it is in a position to begin and offer WiMAX service to subscribers.

Trouble is, the New Zealand government does not think much of Woosh's plan and wants to take back what it describes as unused radio spectrum so it could encourage more competition in wireless broadband (the 2.3 GHz spectrum was originally designed for MDS terrestrial communication technology). In contention are twelve 8 MHz blocks in the 2.3-2.4 GHz band which were first allocated back in 1990 and which are not due for renewal until 2010. Telecom has rights over eight of these blocks, Woosh owns rights to two of them, and Sky TV and BCL each owns one block. Woosh is known to have negotiated with Telecom over a few of its blocks, and has also been in negotiations with Sky, but the government is not convinced this would be the best use of the spectrum. The government says it wants to take back some of these blocks, repackage them, optimize them for WiMAX use, and then auction them. Woosh responds that this will delay any serious roll-out of WiMAX by about five years, since if the blocks are re-auctioned, no buyer would be able to use them until 2010, which means there will be no WiMAX roll out until 2011 at least (the government cannot forcible take away the blocks from the current holders).

Stay tuned.

For more about Woosh's WiMAX plans:
- check out Tom Pullar-Strecker's detailed Stuff report
- and see Woosh's Web site  

PLUS: Operators in Vietnam are worried that the aggressive campaign by the government to help WiMAX deployment in the country will hurt the chances of operators to offer 3G services. Especially worrisome to these operators is the prospect of the arrival of mobile WiMAX. "There is no way for mobile operators to provide their service once wireless services are available everywhere with visibly lower charges," EVN Telecom CEO Nguyen Manh Bang told Vietnam Net Bridge. Report

ALSO: Steve Kennedy says spectrum scarcity will hobble WiMAX proliferation in the U.K. Analysis

AND: Elena Malykhina and Nicholas Hoover argue that Intel's mighty push notwithstanding, WiMAX adoption by U.S. businesses will be slow at best. Analysis

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