Telecom seeks to buy Wired Country spectrum

Commerce Commission receives application to buy 3.5GHz spectrum

Telecom has applied to the Commerce Commission for permission to acquire radio spectrum in the 3.5GHz range from wireless network operator Wired Country.

As the telecommunications industry regulator, the Commission will examine whether such a sale will "substantially [lessen] competition in a market".

Telecom currently does not have spectrum rights in the 3.5GHz range - something it would need if it wants to roll out WiMAX fast wireless data services in the future. WiMAX is the fixed wireless standard being promoted by companies like Intel as the next generation of wireless networking.

Wired Country, the Auckland-based wired and wireless internet service provider subsidiary of electricity company Counties Power, is currently on the market as Counties Power has decided to exit the broadband internet market. With around 2,000 customers, Wired Country has variously been rumoured to have been bought by ISPs ICONZ, CallPlus and most recently Compass Communications.

Along with its wireless network, Wired Country owns fibre loops around Papakura in South Auckland. The ISP was also the recipient of an unknown amount of government subsidy in the Project PROBE region of Auckland, aimed at providing fast internet connectivity in outlying areas.

No dollar value was placed on the sale late yesterday. Telecom and Wired Country did not immediately return Computerworld's calls late yesterday.

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