8 Nov 2013

Rival says Vodafone trying to dominate 700MHz digital dividend

9:13 pm on 8 November 2013

The mobile phone company challenging the two major players says Vodafone is trying to monopolise the remaining 700 megahertz spectrum.

The chief executive of 2 Degrees, Stewart Sherriff, says Vodafone already has more spectrum than anybody else and is trying to use its market power to gain even more.

The 700 MHz band is the spectrum freed up by the switchover to digital television, and the

Government has previously said it plans to auction the 'digital dividend' as management rights commencing 1 January 2014 and expiring 28 November 2031.

But Mr Sherriff is asking the Government to delay auctioning the remaining spectrum.

"This is an 18-year decision - who knows when more spectrum, if any, will become available again," he says.

Mr Sherriff says that he believes that Vodafone wants to soak up additional spectrum so that there will be less scope for 2 Degrees to grow its market in NZ.

"It will be important in the longterm ... in four or five years time it will become a very important asset for all of us," he said.

Vodafone already has more spectrum than anybody else in the market, he said.

Mr Sherriff says 2 Degrees currently has a 27% market share, but that business is heavily skewed to the lower-value pre-paid phone market.

It is trying to grow its revenue share, which is now about 13%, and Mr Sherriff says the longterm potential to do that will depend upon having an adequate share of the available spectrum.

He says his company is working with the Commerce Commission.