The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has revealed that, having received applications for additional spectrum for mobile telecoms services at sites across regional and remote areas of the country, it has issued licences to mobile network operator Optus in the first round of licensing. The cellco has been granted spectrum in the 2100MHz band in a combination of 10MHz and 5MHz paired spectrum blocks covering 972 sites across regional Australia, including: Bendigo in Victoria; Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and Townsville in Queensland; and Tamworth, Wagga Wagga and Port Macquarie in New South Wales. Commenting on the development, Andrew Buay, managing director of Optus Products and Delivery, said: ‘Optus has traditionally been one of the most efficient users of spectrum and we plan to maximise this additional spectrum to support the future growth of 3G mobile services. The release of this regional spectrum … will help us to continue to transform the playing field in the regional communications market, as well as strengthening Optus’ position to challenge the incumbent by improving capacity and coverage in previously under-serviced areas.’
The release of spectrum by the regulator follows expressions of interest from a number of the country’s mobile operators in obtaining additional frequencies, and a second round of licensing is expected to take place after the ACMA has completed the assessment of Telstra’s application for multiple sites.