Communications minister confirms bidding limits will apply to upcoming 5G spectrum auction

9 Aug 2021

Australia’s communications minister Paul Fletcher has confirmed that allocation limits will apply to the amount of low-band spectrum that mobile network operators (MNOs) can acquire in the country’s upcoming 5G frequency auction.

In a press release regarding the matter, the minister noted that bidders will be restricted to holding no more than 82MHz of licensed sub-1GHz spectrum in ‘the most populous areas of Australia’, saying this cap was consistent with recommendations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). To encourage investment in the more sparsely populated regional areas, a slightly higher limit of 92MHz of sub-1GHz spectrum has been set. According to the minister, these limits take into account carriers’ existing holdings in similar bands below 1GHz and align with the Australian Government’s communications policy objectives.

Meanwhile, Minister Fletcher’s direction to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) also requires that body to set aside spectrum in the 900MHz band for Optus and TPG Telecom (Vodafone Australia). Such action will reportedly guarantee these two operators the opportunity to acquire 10MHz of 900MHz band spectrum at the auction ‘to support continuity of services’.