Australian mobile network operator Optus Mobile has announced that it has struck a deal to acquire the 3G spectrum licences of 3G Investments (Australia), a subsidiary of US technology manufacturer Qualcomm, Australian IT reports. If the deal – which is subject to approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – is approved, Optus expects to double the data capacity on its 2100MHz paired spectrum holdings the country’s eight regional capitals from 10MHz to 20MHz. While the operator has declined to confirm the exact amount it will pay for the licences, it has said that it is roughly in line with the AUD206 million (USD180 million) it paid Qualcomm in 2001 for part of its existing 3G concessions. Commenting on the development Andrew Buay, Optus’ Managing Director of Products and Delivery, said: ‘The purchase of 10MHz of 2100MHz spectrum is illustrative of how Optus is building further capacity in its mobile network to meet the explosive growth in demand for data services. Optus has traditionally been an efficient user of spectrum and we plan to maximise this additional spectrum to support the future growth of 3G mobile services among our retail and wholesale customer base.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, 3G Investments (Australia) won 2×10MHz UMTS spectrum licences covering eight major capital city markets in the Australian Communications Authority’s 2001 3G auction. It paid the minimum reserve price of AUD159 million for frequencies covering a total of 12.3 million potential customers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Darwin and Canberra. Despite announcing plans to begin an immediate rollout of CMDA2000 1x and EV-DO networks in the regions, ahead of a commercial launch in 2002, in the past nine years the company has failed to report any further developments, and until now had not made clear its intentions for the concessions.