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4G goes full steam ahead in NZ

Watch for the flying Kiwi as New Zealand starts to catch up with the world's 4G technologies.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor

Watch for the flying Kiwi as New Zealand starts to catch up with the world's 4G technologies.

Our government has rightfully received all-round praise for speeding up its planned digital switchover from the expected 2015 to 2013, with parts of the country starting in 2012.

Instead of being a laggard, New Zealand will be up to speed with Australia, Britain and the USA, where the switchover is either underway or imminent.

Here's what ICT Minister Steven Joyce had to say:

"We expect this spectrum will be ideal for 4G mobile technologies, which will give New Zealanders access to faster mobile broadband services and with improved coverage. With this spectrum being made available for new uses, New Zealand remains competitive on the world stage. The implementation of 4G technology will be crucial if New Zealand is to continue to improve its productivity, prosperity and economic growth."

Everyone seemingly welcomed the move, including the opposition Labour Party.

Vodafone, who is trialling 4G technologies in Europe, gushed with praise.

Vodafone New Zealand chief executive officer (CEO) Russell Stanners said that "this technology is capable of delivering speeds of between 100Mbps and 200Mbps — five to 10 times faster than the maximum broadband speeds we see today. The impact these kinds of speeds will have on productivity both in urban and rural New Zealand is profound and will help New Zealand compete on the world stage."

Indeed, you might recall Joyce's earlier backing for analog TV being used for 4G wireless almost a year ago.

It all seems to overcome issues Joyce faced recently as Telecom looked to separate its retail and wholesale arms, allowing it to join in the national $1.5 billion roll-out, as well as some flak he received following last month's announcement that tenders for the $300 million rural broadband project must be national and no longer regional.

Of course, there will be the moaners — including those who will bleat about the old and the poor who might end up with redundant TV sets.

But as the government reports, more than 70 per cent of Kiwi homes have TV sets already capable of receiving digital TV.

I will add that Sky TV and Freeview are commonplace in New Zealand, especially in rural areas where Sky may be needed to get a decent reception.

I am sure the oldies can be bought off with some education campaigns and a subsidy, which seemed to do the trick in Britain and America, whose switchovers are already underway.

However, I don't understand why New Zealand cannot access set-top boxes for 20 quid like people can in Britain, instead of the NZ$100-plus typically quoted.

That aside, the rest of us can now look forward to the quicker adoption of 4G technologies and New Zealand keeping up with the rest of the world.

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