18 Jun 2010

Maori Council wants control of 4G

8:28 pm on 18 June 2010

A battle is looming between Maori and the Government about control of telecommunications frequencies.

The Maori Council says it is entitled to 100% of new, fourth-generationspectrum.

The Maori 4G campaign follows an unsuccessful bid for control of the 3G spectrum, which ended in a cash grant and the right to buy spectrum at a discount.

The council says the Waitangi Tribunal has ruled spectrum is a taonga, or treasure, making it Maori property under Article Two of the Treaty of Waitangi.

But successive governments have rejected that, saying the spectrum was unknown when the Treaty was signed.

IT and Communications Minister Steven Joyce says the Government is highly unlikely to treat it as a taonga.

4G spectrum would assist the delivery of ultra-fast broadband and multi-media services and allow synergy between the internet and high-definition television, among other uses.

Vodafone and Telecom have just offered a combined sum of $106 million for 20 years of 2G and 3G spectrum covering 30 megaherz.

Open auction urged

The Telecommunications Industry Group says it is important that no group has a monopoly on 4G.

Chief executive Rob Spray told Morning Report it is important there is an open, transparent auction for the spectrum.