Telstra, Optus and TPG emerge as winners in digital dividend auction

7 May 2013

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced the results of the country’s digital dividend auction, and while the sale process netted the government a total of AUD1.96 billion (USD2.02 billion), this was significantly lower than the AUD3 billion that the state had hoped for.

In the event, three operators walked away with frequencies, with fixed line incumbent Telstra laying claim to the largest selection of new spectrum; the telco will pay AUD1.30 billion for 2×20MHz blocks in the 700MHz band and 2×40MHz in the 2.5GHz band. Meanwhile, the country’s second largest cellco by subscribers, Optus, successfully bid AUD649.13 million for a 2×10MHz block in the 700MHz band, in addition to 2×20MHz of spectrum in the 2.5GHz band. With the wireless sector’s other major network operator – Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) – having said at the end of last year it would not participate in the auction, alternative broadband provider TPG Telecom rounded out the winners, agreeing to pay just AUD13.5 million for a 2×10MHz block in the 2.5GHz band. A total of three 2×5MHz blocks in the 700MHz band, meanwhile, went unsold.

Commenting on the auction, ACMA chairman Chris Chapman noted: ‘The auction tested the market and the auction’s conclusion is another important step toward realising Australia’s digital dividend … This decades-long process of spectrum reform has already transformed the television industry, delivering greater diversity and better technical quality of television services to viewers. It will be complete when the new licences in the 700MHz band become operational at the beginning of 2015.’