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4G Airwaves show some Kiwis are more special than others

While special treatment for Maori in the past allocation of spectrum had a pretty sound outcome – more competition for the market – it looks like it ain’t gonna happen as 4G is doled out.

That much has emerged as government readies to auction off the part of the airwaves which, until now, was reserved for analogue TV.

However, demonstrating that everyone in NZ (still) isn’t quite equal, government has made provision for a nice, fat (ish) ICT development fund for Maori.

Writing in his blog, Telecoms User Association CE Paul Brislen explains that the special treatment back when 2100MHz spectrum was doled out eventually resulted in the establishment of 2degrees.

Good thing that resulted in a benefit for everyone (more competition) and not just the trust which enjoys a shareholding in that company.

“Today, that Trust is a shareholder in Two Degrees and without that discounted spectrum we probably wouldn't have a third player in the market today,” Brislen confirms.

Arguably good news, considering just how much spectrum is worth in the high-rolling world of telecoms, Minister for Communications and Information Technology Amy Adams has made clear the government’s position on potential further Waitangi claims.

“The Government recognises the importance of Maori having opportunities to participate in the ICT sector, however, in keeping with the view of successive governments that spectrum is not a taonga, in our view it does not follow that Maori require further spectrum to be set aside in order to meet our shared objectives of the protection of language and culture," she said in a statement.

While the 2100MHz spectrum arguably set a precedent for special treatment, we seem to have missed the fact that all the while the 700MHz was being used for stone-age TV transmission.

Nobody seemed to have any special claim to it. Pre-precedent, if you like.

And the ICT development trust, mooted by government? At this stage it’s more of a hint than anything else. Adams’ statement notes it will “look into setting up a $30 million ICT development fund".

The fund’s purpose is to consider "the way government can assist Maori leverage the potential benefits from new technologies, and promote and support the language and culture in a digital world".

The rest of you lot can bloody well use your own PCs and smartphones.