The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched a consultation on whether competition limits should be imposed upon a proposed auction of spectrum licences. With the government preparing to launch a sale of spectrum in the 1800MHz band in regional Australia, the regulator has noted that the band in question is ‘highly sought after’ for 4G and mobile broadband services. At present, 1800MHz spectrum in regional areas is mainly used for fixed point-to-point connections to provide backhaul to meet universal service obligations, while there are parts of the band that are currently unused.
The Department of Communications has reportedly requested that the ACCC provide advice on the potential competition limits for the proposed auction, which is scheduled to take place by the end of November 2015. In providing its advice, the ACCC has been asked to consider the current state of competition for mobile broadband services in regional Australia and the effect that competition limits may have upon competition in downstream markets, as well as any other matters it considers relevant. Interested parties have been given until 17 April 2015 to make submissions.
Commenting on the consultation, ACCC chairman Rod Sims was cited as saying: ‘The ACCC welcomes stakeholder views on whether competition limits should be imposed in the spectrum auction … Stakeholder submissions will help us to understand the need for, and implications of, placing limits on the spectrum that may be allocated. They will also inform our views on whether competition limits would promote competition in mobile broadband markets.’