Despite the hype surrounding Vodafone’s launch of the next cellphone technology, it risks a serious downside to thousands of rural broadband users, according to the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA.NZ).
“Vodafone and its competitors are putting huge pressure on Government to reallocate radio spectrum so they can run 5G more cost-effectively,” WISPA Chairman Mike Smith says.
“However, some of the spectrum the mobile companies are trying to claim is already used commercially by about 30 regional WISPs, who collectively service many tens of thousands of rural customers. These customers are farms who use the Internet for business management, rural kids who use it for study, and rural people who depend on it for social inclusion. Most cant get Internet any other way.
“If the government responds to the cellphone companies’ land grab, some of those users could face more expensive Internet or even lose their hard-won connectivity altogether.
“The advantages of 5g are very much in the future. By contrast, WISPs are solving the connectivity issue for rural New Zealand here and now.
“It makes no sense to slow or reverse the progress made in connecting our major export sector, just so that some online games will work a nanosecond faster or city people can connect their home air conditioning to their car GPS. 5g’s benefits are marginal and futuristic, but basic connectivity for rural families and businesses is here, now, and economically essential.
“WISPA seeks a clear assurance from Minister Faafoi that no decision will be made to reallocate spectrum until the issues have been thoroughly aired in public.”