Australian government announces decision on spectrum limits for upcoming auction

5 Sep 2017

With the Australian authorities set to auction off spectrum in several bands later this year, it has now been confirmed that the government will follow advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and lift existing allocation limits related to 2GHz frequencies.

In a press release, communications minister Mitch Fifield confirmed the decision to cancel the existing spectrum cap in the 2GHz band, saying the move would allow all telecommunications providers to bid for residual spectrum from previous auctions. To that end, the minister filed ‘Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Limits—2 GHz Band) Repeal Direction 2017’, which repealed the earlier relevant legislation, ‘Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Limits—2 GHz Band) Direction No. 2 of 2000’.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that existing allocation limits for the 1800MHz band will remain in place, while, as is currently the case, no restrictions will apply to the amount of spectrum a company can hold in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) confirmed it was preparing to allocate a range of frequencies by auction, and launch a consultation on its plan. In terms of the spectrum that is being considered for sale, the regulator confirmed that this includes: lots in the 1800MHz band that were unallocated after the most recent auction of such frequencies; and frequencies in the 2GHz, 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands that either were not allocated in earlier auctions or have become available following spectrum licence re-issue processes, as well as some 2GHz spectrum lots in the Canberra region that have been made available for the first time.

In the wake of the decision on spectrum allocation limits, meanwhile, the Department of Communications and Arts said of the sale plans: ‘The auction will encourage competition and enable all currently unused spectrum in relevant bands to be licensed under the current legislative framework. It will also help with a smooth transition to the new licensing framework proposed by the Radiocommunications Bill 2017.’