Australia’s communications minister Mitch Fifield has announced that the government will make 2×15MHz of unallocated 700MHz digital dividend spectrum available by auction, having rejected a bid for frequencies in the band from Vodafone Australia.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in May 2016 Vodafone Australia requested permission from the government to acquire 2×10MHz blocks of 700MHz spectrum that went unsold in an auction held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) back in 2013. Had the bid been accepted, VHA’s proposal would have seen the ACMA either charge the telco an upfront fee of AUD571.81 million (USD434 million), or allow it to pay a total of AUD594.3 million via three instalments over the period 2018-2020.
In confirming that the spectrum will be offered via a competitive sale process, it was noted that a consultation on the offer for the frequencies by VHA had ‘indicated a strong market interest from other industry players’. As a result, the government said it had determined that the competing interests would best be resolved through a competitive process, with the ACMA to conduct the auction on behalf of the state. To enable this, the government will reportedly provide a formal direction to the ACMA on the reserve price, allocation limits and other relevant matters, while advice will be sought from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to inform a decision about appropriate allocation limits for the auction.