Australia’s digital dividend auction pushed back to April 2013

20 Jun 2012

Australia’s Federal Government has pushed back the sale of spectrum freed up following the switch-off of analogue television signals, with the auction that was due to take place in the latter part of 2012 now not due until April 2013. In confirming the delay, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) claimed that the revised timing would ‘maximise the product certainty for potential bidders,’ while also ensuring that successful bidders will have enough time to plan and deploy networks before their concessions begin on 1 January 2015. The proposed auction is expected to include spectrum in both the 700MHz and 2.5GHz bands.

The ACMA also took the opportunity to outline dates for a number of expected milestones in the refarming of spectrum. It noted that, with the government having appointed Broadcast Australia to manage the process of ‘restacking’ commercial and national broadcasters’ digital television services from the digital dividend spectrum to alternative bands, this task will be completed in two stages. The first, which will involve developing a timetable by early July 2012 which will feature ‘multi-month timing windows in which specified affected services will restack,’ while a more detailed timetable is expected in November 2012, featuring ‘indicative dates on which all affected services will restack’. The restacking process is expected to be finalised by 31 December 2014.

Commenting on the development, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy, noted: ‘The release of television spectrum is one of the significant benefits of the digital switchover process. The sale of this spectrum is a unique opportunity to pave the way for next generation mobile broadband services in Australia, such as 4G mobile services.’