Vodafone boycotts 4G auction, Optus considering same, in protest at spectrum pricing

17 Dec 2012

Vodafone Australia has decided not to bid in the 4G mobile licence auction set for next April, while rival Optus is considering a similar boycott, following communications minister Stephen Conroy’s announcement of a reserve price of AUD3 billion (USD3.1 billion) for the 700MHz band spectrum, or USD1.36 per MHz per population. As reported by Telecomasia, Vodafone indicated that if the current 700MHz auction terms stand then it would instead utilise its 1800MHz spectrum for rolling out LTE next year whilst simultaneously upgrading its 3.5G network. Optus is lobbying for the price to be cut, as its vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs, David Epstein, said that the government’s reserve price ‘appears unworkable and out of line with international outcomes… effectively double the basket of outcomes achieved in comparable advanced economies over the past two to three years.’ Epstein continued that he thought the high floor price was ‘likely to have the effect of restricting investment significantly, raising prices as costs are passed through to consumers, and reducing consumer choice.’