Telstra and Optus between them picked up the majority of regional spectrum on the block in the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s 1800MHz auction.
Most of the spectrum was auctioned off in individual 10MHz lots (each lot comprising paired 2x5MHz from each end of the 1800MHz band).
(The 1800MHz band covers spectrum in the 1725-1785MHz and 1820-1880MHz ranges.)
Telstra picked up 2 x 25MHz in nine regions, 2 x 20Mhz in two regions, and 2 x 2.5MHz in two regions, while Optus picked up 2 x 20MHz in five regions and 2x 25MHz in seven regions.
TPG walked away with 2 x 10MHz in eight regions, 2 x 5MHz in one region, and 2 x 2.5MHz in one region, while Vodafone won 2 x 15MHz in one region, 2 x 10MHz in three regions, and 2 x 5MHz in two regions.
“As a result of the auction, we’ll be at least doubling the amount of spectrum in the 1800MHz band that we can use to provide 4G services in these areas,” Telstra's CEO Andy Penn said.
“In fact, in some regions we will more than triple the amount available. Securing this extra spectrum allows Telstra to deliver more capacity to cater to our customers’ growing demand for mobile data. It will also enable mobile data to be delivered at even faster speeds."
“When combined with our existing assets, this additional spectrum allows Optus to support Australia’s growing demand for data services in regional Australia," Optus CEO Alan Lew said.
Optus picked up regional spectrum that aligned with its metro holdings, the telco said.
“The use of common frequencies between metropolitan and regional areas will help reducedead zones across urban and rural boundaries, and give customers a seamless 4G experience when they’re on the go,” Lew said.
“Following our purchase in 2013 of 2x10MHz of nationwide 2.5GHz spectrum, this further investment in spectrum represents the beginning of the next exciting chapter in TPG’s development,” TPG’s CEO, David Teoh, said.
“Fixed line broadband has to-date been the backbone of our growth but we believe that wireless connectivity will play and increasing role in the future needs of Australian telecommunications consumers.
The auction brought in revenue of $543.5 million, the ACMA announced.
Residual spectrum that went unsold during the auction comprised 2 x 5Mhz in four regions, and 2 x 10Mhz in one region. The ACMA is yet to determine how to dispose of the remaining lots.
“Due to the high level of international harmonisation of this band for mobile broadband services, industry — and ultimately citizens and consumers — will benefit from the flow-on economic and social effects of this allocation process,” ACMA chairperson Chris Chapman said in a statement.
“1800 MHz spectrum is already used extensively in Australia’s major cities, mainly to provide 4G telecommunications.
“With previously unallocated 1800MHz spectrum in regional areas now in the hands of mobile broadband service providers, the auction should enable improvements to the availability and performance of 4G telecommunications services right across regional Australia.”
The ACMA in February last year originally released its draft proposal for reallocating spectrum in the regional 1800MHz band for long-term spectrum licences.
The motivation was to release the spectrum, which was subject to apparatus licensing and used mainly for fixed links, in order for it to be used to deliver 4G services in regional areas.
The government in May backed the move to release the spectrum.
The auction began on 30 November.
The 1800MHz spectrum licences in regional Australia will commence on 30 May 2017, the ACMA said. The licences will expire on 17 June 2028.