ACCC prepares to set auction limits for key 5G spectrum

ACMA-run auction expected to launch in October

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has written to industry stakeholders seeking input on allocation limits for the upcoming auction of spectrum in the 3.6GHz band.

Spectrum in the 3.6GHz band is expected to play a key role in telcos’ rollout of 5G services in Australia.

“The ACCC understands the 3.6 GHz band will be utilised for wide-area broadband deployments, notably mobile broadband and fixed wireless,” the ACCC said in a letter calling for input on allocation limits.

“In particular, this band is likely to be used for early 5G deployment as the broader 3.3–3.8 GHz frequency range has been identified internationally as a pioneer band for 5G services.”

Communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield earlier this month requested advice from the ACCC on spectrum allocation limits as the government moves ahead with auctioning off 125MHz of spectrum (3575-3700MHz) in regional and metropolitan areas.

The spectrum will be available for a 12-year term, depending on the location, the minister noted in his letter to the ACCC.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has indicated a preference to auction off the spectrum in 25x5MHz lots, the letter from Fifield stated.

“Small lots would allow the band to be split in a large number of ways and may be attractive for smaller bidders,” the minister said. “However, offering the spectrum in 25x5MHz lots increases the risk that bidders may win an amount of spectrum that is insufficient or uneconomical.”

A proposed minimum bid requirement has been proposed to mitigate the risk.

The ACMA is planning to begin the auction in October.

The ACCC said it expects a high level of demand for the spectrum. Its letter states that mobile network operators “have indicated that they will require 100 MHz of contiguous spectrum in the 3.3-3.8 GHz frequency range to deliver 5G services, meaning some bidders may seek to acquire up to 100 MHz of 3.6 GHz spectrum in the auction.”

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Tags TelecommunicationsAustralian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)spectrum5G

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