Bidders hoping to acquire a piece of the 1.8GHz spectrum have so far laid almost $100 million on the auction table.
Round four in the bidding process closed on Tuesday afternoon with the total sum of highest bids now $98.5 million. This is understood to already be more than the amount raised by the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) during the last spectrum auction.
Strong players in the auction for the 1.8 GHz band which began on Monday include One.Tel, Hutchison Telecommunications and Primus Telecommunications, with most bidders concentrating on lots available in Sydney and Melbourne. Lots are also available in Brisbane, Adelaide, and Melbourne.
Less prominent bidders are Cable & Wireless Optus, Telstra and Vodafone, while Siemens withdrew on Monday for unknown reasons.
Ravi Bhatia, CEO of Primus Telecommunications, said he expects the auction to continue for about another 10 days. "I certainly hope this one doesn't go on for six months," he said.
Bhatia would not disclose Primus' budget for the auction, nor would he reveal how many lots the telco is looking to acquire. "Nobody is going to say the truth [about their plans]," he said.
According to Bhatia, if Primus successfully acquires part of the spectrum, the band will be used for next-generation mobile services, such as mobile Internet. "I hope everyone will see Primus as a serious player. We are intending to be a serious player in the mobiles market."
Ian Hayne, manager of spectrum marketing for the Australian Communications Authority, said "the ACA is delighted with the progress, but the auction still has a way to go".
The auction will continue until all lots are acquired, with two four-hour rounds taking place each day.
* For the full story see Computerworld 7/2/00