Maori look to respond on spectrum

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 05:00 22/02/2013

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Maori claimants are fuming after the Government rejected their claims for highly valuable radio spectrum, even though they are being offered a $30 million "development fund" instead.

Instead, the Government said it would auction all the "digital dividend" radio spectrum that will be freed up for 4G mobile networks this year following the closure of analogue television.

Communications Minister Amy Adams announced the Cabinet had rejected a Maori demand for a share of the spectrum, which could fetch hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Government would instead consider establishing a $30m "ICT development fund" that would help Maori "‘support the language and culture in a digital world", she said.

The prized 700MHz radio spectrum would be auctioned during the third quarter with a reserve price, she said.

2degrees chief executive Eric Hertz said the detailed auction rules would be "crucial in determining whether Kiwis would continue to benefit from effective three-player competition in the mobile market".

The company is understood to be concerned it could be squeezed out of the 4G market by its deeper-pocketed rivals, Vodafone and Telecom.

Graeme Everton lodged a Waitangi Tribunal claim for the spectrum in 2009 along with the Wellington Maori Language Board and the New Zealand Maori Council.

It is understood the claimants planned to meet yesterday evening to discuss a response to the Government decision.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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