The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced it will auction 125MHz of spectrum in the 3.6GHz band, recognised internationally as a key 5G frequency, and outlined details for the sale planned for late November.

Included in the auction are 350 lots across 14 regions, with the reserve price in urban areas set at AUD0.08 ($0.06) per MHz, per citizen (MHz/pop), excluding lower lots in Perth, where the price is AUD0.05/MHz/pop.

The starting price in regional areas (defined by think tank the Regional Australia Institute as towns, small cities and areas lying outwith the country’s major capital cities) will be AUD0.03/MHz/pop.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said it designed the auction process – including starting prices – “to maximise efficiency, competitive outcomes and the full utility of this spectrum for 5G”.

After extensive consultations with the industry, ACMA announced in October 2017 it would start to reallocate spectrum in the 3.6GHz band and move to more efficient arrangements in the 900MHz band to prepare for 5G broadband services.

The country’s largest mobile operator Telstra, which opened its 5G Innovation Centre in February, plans to launch commercial 5G service in 2019.

Rival Optus announced in February plans to introduce a fixed wireless 5G product in key metro areas by early 2019.