ACMA concludes 1800MHz auction; four secure new spectrum

5 Feb 2016

Four companies secured 1800MHz spectrum in an auction process which closed yesterday, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced. Telstra, Optus, Vodafone Australia and TPG Telecom all bagged frequencies, spending approximately AUD543.5 million (USD396 million) combined.

With the auction process having commenced on 30 November 2015, it ran over 179 rounds, and Optus emerged as the highest spending company, bidding a total price of AUD196 million, followed by Telstra and TPG with AUD191 million and AUD88 million, respectively, while Vodafone Australia spent AUD68 million. The ACMA noted that the 1800MHz band spectrum licences for regional Australia will commence on 30 May 2017. Meanwhile, the regulator has confirmed that concessions for the residual 1800MHz lots – which comprised one 5MHz lot covering North Queensland (Cairns/Townsville), one 5MHz lot in regional South Australia, and one 10MHz lot in Adelaide – will commence as soon as practicable, following the payment of the relevant spectrum access charges and associated ACMA administrative processes. All licences will expire on 17 June 2028.

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman was cited as saying: ‘The 1800MHz band spectrum auction process ran very efficiently and the simultaneous multi-round ascending (SMRA) auction format proved highly effective in testing the market value of the spectrum and allocating it to those parties that valued it most.’ With regards to benefits to be derived from the development, the executive added: ‘1800 MHz spectrum is already used extensively in Australia’s major cities, mainly to provide 4G telecommunications. With previously unallocated 1800MHz spectrum in regional areas now in the hands of mobile broadband service providers, the auction should enable improvements to the availability and performance of 4G telecommunications services right across regional Australia.’