Senator Stephen Conroy, Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, has released two draft Ministerial Directions to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) regarding the sale of 700MHz spectrum which went unsold in the recent digital dividend auction. The draft directions in question are: Radiocommunications (Spectrum Access Charges – 700 MHz Band) Direction No. 1 of 2013; and Australian Communications and Media Authority (Spectrum Allocation – Post-Auction Review) Direction No. 1 of 2013. As per the draft direction related to spectrum access charges, the ACMA is required to fix the fee for the remaining 700MHz frequencies at no less than AUD1.36 (USD1.25) per MHz per head of population calculation (AUD/MHz/pop); this is the same as the reserve price at which the spectrum was offered in the previous auction. Meanwhile, the draft direction related to spectrum allocation stipulates that the ACMA must advise the communications minister on the procedures for selling off the remaining 700MHz frequencies by 1 September 2014. A public consultation regarding the proposals has now been launched, and a deadline for submissions has been set as 19 July 2013.
Commenting on the matter, Mr Conroy noted: ‘The ACMA report in September 2014 will inform the decision about how to bring the remaining 700MHz spectrum back to market in a way that provides the greatest benefit to the Commonwealth, interested purchasers and the Australian public,’ adding: ‘The ACMA has previously stated that it should not be assumed any unsold spectrum would be returned to market in the short term, or at a price that is lower than the reserve price set for this auction. These proposed directions formalise that approach.’