Spark eyes Woosh's unused 2300MHz spectrum

Spark asks regulator for clearance to acquire spectrum unused since 2007.

New Zealand telco Spark wants Woosh NZ's unused 2300MHz band spectrum to roll out fixed wireless broadband services.

The Commerce Commission said today it had received an application from Spark to acquire the management rights to 70MHz of spectrum in the band from Craig Wireless Spectrum Operations and Woosh Wireless Holdings.

The unused management rights will expire at the end of 2016 if they are not used to provide a service.

Spark will be required to enter into a Management Rights Agreement with the Crown committing it to offering a fixed wireless broadband access service before any transaction is completed, the Commerce Commission said.

A public notice (pdf) said the agreement will commit Spark to implementing a service with coverage of at least 30 percent of the population in 15 local authority areas using the spectrum.

Once that is done, the rights become unconditional and will be extended until 23 November 2030.

"Advances in Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology since 2007 have led Spark to identify the opportunity to use the 2300MHz management rights to more efficiently deliver fixed wireless broadband access services, namely broadband over LTE (BoLTE) and voice over LTE (VoLTE) services, for New Zealand customers," the notice said.

The total purchase price is reportedly NZ$9 million.

Woosh sold 9000 fixed line broadband customers to rival Slingshot in July.

Founded in 2003 as a wireless ISP, Woosh has seen its customer base eroded in recent years as both copper broadband and the availability fibre has improved.

In 2010, Woosh joined Kordia in a bid for the government's Rural Broadband Initiative. That would have seen their combined 2300MHz holdings used for LTE services but Vodafone won the deal instead.

Woosh's last annual report, to 31 August 2014, revealed sales had declined from NZ$16 million to NZ$12.5 million during the year.