Australia to auction regional 1800MHz spectrum in November

1 Jun 2015

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will sell a 2×60MHz block of 1800MHz spectrum in regional Australia at an auction in November 2015, ZDNet reports. Current users of the spectrum will need to vacate the frequency band by June 2017, but winning bidders will be able to deploy services earlier than that in areas where the spectrum is already vacant. If some users cannot vacate the spectrum by June 2017, the ACMA has said it could issue temporary apparatus licences to those users until they can vacate the spectrum.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to set a cap on the total amount of spectrum any single operator can acquire, with telcos allowed to bid for a maximum of 2×25MHz of spectrum. The limitation is in line with suggestions put forward by mining corporation Rio Tinto and telcos Optus and Vodafone in April 2015, with both operators voicing their concerns that incumbent telco Telstra could possibly increase its regional advantage, as it is currently the only cellco with 1800MHz spectrum in regional areas. However, Vodafone’s general manager of policy Matthew Lobb has expressed his dissatisfaction with the proposed cap by pointing out: ‘It is difficult to understand the rationale for setting competition limits that could allow Telstra to corner 2×40MHz of spectrum in this band since the limit ignores their existing holdings. No other prospective auction participant can come close to this outcome, meaning that one player is effectively insulated from competition.’