Australia’s digital dividend auction gets underway

23 Apr 2013

Having opened submissions for the country’s upcoming digital dividend auction back in January 2013, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) noted yesterday that the sale process would begin at 9.00 am local time today. Ahead of the launch of the auction, the regulator noted that it anticipates the sale will run ‘over several weeks, with auction results known in mid-to-late May 2013’. Looking further ahead, the ACMA has also confirmed that it will publish the names of the winning bidders, along with the spectrum they have been allocated and the total sum paid, once the auction has been concluded and results verified by an independent third party. During the sale process itself, however, the watchdog has noted that it will not disclose any information about the progress of the auction, a move which it claims is ‘to protect the integrity of the auction’.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, the digital dividend will see spectrum offered in both the 700MHz band (703MHz-748MHz and 758MHz-803MHz) and 2.5GHz band (2500MHz-2570MHz and 2620MHz-2690MHz). In the 700MHz band, the ACMA has previously revealed that there is ‘one product containing nine generic lots’, with each lot comprising a paired 2×5MHz block of spectrum, of which 5MHz will be in the upper part of the band, and the other in the lower part. Each of the nine available spectrum allocations will allow for nationwide coverage, bar the Mid-west Radio Quiet Zone (RQZ). In the 2.5GHz band, however, the ACMA is offering ‘eleven products, each containing 14 generic lots’, with each lot offering 2×5MHz, again with 5MHz in each of the upper and lower parts of the band. Unlike the nationwide 700MHz band concessions, the 2.5GHz licences will be available on a region-by-region basis, with the eleven locations listed as: the eight metropolitan areas of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney; the two regional areas of Regional East Australia and Regional Western Australia; and Remote Australia, which covers the remainder of the country, but excludes the Mid-west RQZ. With regards to pricing, the ACMA has been directed by country’s telecoms minister to set the reserve prices for the 700MHz band at AUD1.36 (USD1.42) per MHz per head of population calculation (AUD/MHz/pop). By comparison, for the 2.5GHz spectrum licences, a reserve price of AUD0.03/MHz/pop has been set.