The Communications Minister, Paul Swain, today announced the pilot of a new General User Radio Licence for fixed radio links.
The new licence allocates "public park" radio spectrum in the upper 5 GHz band for the radio links. Anyone can enter this "public park" and install the links, subject to the installations meeting basic technical requirements. There is no requirement for individual licences or payment of fees. However, the users of the links are not provided any protection in the event of interference from other users of the "public park".
The radio links are for point-to-point communications and can be designed to operate over distances of up to 30 kilometres or longer. It is expected that they will be used for broadband applications like linking computer LAN networks between buildings and providing high speed internet access to remote areas.
"The main objective of this licence is to provide new options for the delivery of wireless broadband data, along with the potential for increased competition and reduced access costs" says Mr Swain.
"It will complement the Government's Project PROBE initiatives, especially in rural areas.
"The licence is based on similar radio linking provisions that have recently been introduced in the USA by the Federal Communications Commission - as part of the U-NII (Unlicensed-National Information Infrastructure) "public park" spectrum. Equipment is now becoming readily available for the implementation of the radio links. A key feature is the packaging of the equipment which allows for easy installation and rapid deployment.Mr Swain says
"The new licence is expected to promote New Zealand innovation through the development of new services and technologies to maximise the value of the "public park" radio link spectrum. It also reinforces New Zealand's position as a leader in investigating new approaches to the management of the radio spectrum".
The new licence is issued on a pilot basis from 22nd May 2003 until 30th June 2004. The pilot will be reviewed with industry before the Government makes a decision on the longer-term arrangements.