Australia’s government aims to raise as much as AUD1 billion ($752 million) by auctioning off the 30MHz of 700MHz spectrum that was left unsold in the digital dividend sale back in 2013, Channel News reported.
Vodafone Australia, which didn’t participate in that auction, proposed in May to the government that it be allowed to purchase 2x10MHz of the 700MHz band for AUD572 million or in three instalments totalling AUD594 million.
The government rejected the request and announced the sale of two 15MHz blocks of the highly efficient spectrum, which was previously used for analogue TV. Both market leader Telstra and number two Optus strongly criticised the proposal for a direct allocation.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will organise the auction, with the government providing direction on the reserve price and allocation limits after seeking advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
With the three major players continuing to expand their 4G networks, the government expects strong interest in the spectrum. TPG Telecom, which is looking to enter Australia’s mobile market (it also plans to bid for Singapore’s fourth mobile licence), has expressed interest in buying 700MHz spectrum.
At the end of Q3, 66 per cent of Telstra’s 16 million mobile connections were 4G, while 54 per cent of Optus’ 9.4 million subscribers were 4G and 63 per cent of Vodafone’s 5.6 million customers were LTE users, according to GSMA Intelligence.
In the 2013 auction, Telstra, Optus and TPG Internet spent nearly AUD2 billion on spectrum in the 700MHz and 2.5GHz bands.