Optus and Telstra lay claim to spectrum in ACMA’s 850MHz/950MHz auction

8 Dec 2021

Optus and Telstra have been named as the two winning bidders in the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA’s) auction for spectrum in the 850MHz and 900MHz bands. In a press release, the regulator revealed that with all 16 available lots having been sold, the auction had raised a total of AUD2.092 billion (USD1.48 billion) for state coffers.

Optus emerged as the biggest spender, agreeing to pay a total of AUD1.476 million for twelve lots of spectrum across both bands, with it laying claim to the following regional ‘products’: ‘downshift metropolitan’ (824MHz-825MHz/869MHz-870MHz); ‘downshift regional’ (824MHz-825MHz/869MHz-870MHz); ‘900 lower major population’ (890MHz-895MHz/935MHz-940MHz); ‘900 lower regional’ (890MHz-895MHz/935MHz-940MHz); ‘900 upper major population’ (895MHz-915MHz/940MHz-960MHz); and ‘900 upper regional’ (895MHz-915MHz/940MHz-960MHz).

For its part, Telstra bid AUD616 million for a total of twelve lots in the 850MHz band, comprising the follow spectrum packages: ‘850 major population’ (814-824MHz/859MHz-869MHz); and ‘850 regional’ (814MHz-824MHz/859MHz-869MHz).

All licences will come into force on 1 July 2024, for a 20-year term ending in 2044, although the ACMA noted that winning bidders may have the opportunity to obtain early access to the spectrum ‘under special circumstances’ before the concessions officially commence.

Commenting on the matter, ACMA acting Chair Creina Chapman said the frequency allocations will help support the deployment of 4G and 5G networks across Australia, noting: ‘This spectrum will support the deployment of more wireless broadband services, facilitating higher speeds and more reliable networks for consumers … The successful allocation of 850MHz/900MHz band spectrum is another important step forward for Australia’s transition to 5G, and the deployment of new technologies.’