MinterEllisonRuddWatts has advised long standing client, Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) (a joint venture between three of New Zealand’s largest telecommunications companies Spark, One NZ and 2degrees) in negotiations with the Crown for NZD72 million of additional funding to build more telecommunications towers across rural New Zealand.
MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ Partner Tom Maasland advised on the original network roll out agreement in 2017, where the telcos agreed the initial NZD150 million funding arrangement with the Crown to improve internet connectivity in rural areas and fix mobile blackspots along main highways and key tourist spots, and Tom advised RCG again in 2018 when an additional NZD100 million funding was made available for further tower build out, which included the West Coast of the South Island and the Chatham Islands.
Tom Maasland notes that this additional funding will further make a difference to increase coverage in remote and under-served rural areas, and in mobile blackspot and significant tourist areas.
“It’s fantastic to see the continued investment into the hugely successful roll out being conducted by the Rural Connectivity Group, which will lead to improved connectivity across the most difficult and hard to reach rural and remote areas of New Zealand, enhancing communication capabilities for both individuals and businesses.”
The funding to RCG forms part of a broader arrangement between Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and each of Spark, One NZ and 2degrees for the purchase of management rights to 3.5GHz band spectrum to support and enable the telcos’ ongoing 5G rollout across New Zealand.
The team advised on all aspects of the funding arrangement including competition law considerations.
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