Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

No 4G spectrum for Maori, says Govt

No new spectrum will be set aside for Maori when the new 4G spectrum is allocated later this year, says the Government. Photo / Thinkstock
No new spectrum will be set aside for Maori when the new 4G spectrum is allocated later this year, says the Government. Photo / Thinkstock

The Government says it will not set aside any spectrum for Maori when it auctions it off later this year.

In third quarter of this year the Government hopes to allocate parts of the radio spectrum, which will become available after the switchover to digital television.

The allocation of this spectrum will allow telecommunications companies to build fourth generation (4G) mobile networks that provide much faster mobile broadband speeds.

"Indications are that by using the spectrum for 4G mobile networks, we can expect economic benefits for New Zealand of up to $2.4 billion over the next twenty years," Minister for Communications and Information Technology Amy Adams said today.

"The use of mobile broadband services is growing at an enormous rate in New Zealand. Fast, reliable access to mobile broadband is enabling improvements in productivity and ease of business, and providing new applications for consumers," Adams said.

But in her statement, the minister said there would be no specific allocation of 4G spectrum set aside for Maori and that instead the Government would look into setting up a $30 million ICT development fund".

This would focus "on the way government can assist Maori leverage the potential benefits from new technologies, and promote and support the language and culture in a digital world".

Some Maori had made claims to the spectrum and one source this afternoon said the Government's decision could leave it open to High Court action or claims to the Waitangi Tribunal.

" The Government recognises the importance of Maori having opportunities to participate in the ICT sector, however, in keeping with the view of successive governments that spectrum is not a taonga, in our view it does not follow that Maori require further spectrum to be set aside in order to meet our shared objectives of the protection of language and culture," Adams said today.

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