An Australian multiband auction was unremarkable is most aspects, except for the action in the 3.4GHz band – a 5G spectrum candidate – which accounted for 63 per cent of the AUD92.6 million ($70 million) raised by the government in the sale of spectrum in four bands.
Telstra, the country’s largest mobile operator with a 51 per cent share of mobile subscribers, spent AUD50 million on a single 32.5MHz lot in Brisbane in the 3.4GHz band, nearly 70 per cent of its total outlay in the auction. The price per MHz was nearly AUD1.54 million.
The most expensive lot per MHz, also in the 3.4GHz band, was bought by Optus in Adelaide for nearly AUD6 million. The 3.5MHz lot cost AUD1.71 million per megahertz.
The 3.4GHz band (or C-band) is one of the few spectral bands on which the global telecoms industry is converging as it moves towards 5G, with strong support from governments around the world including China and Japan.
Telstra and Optus are clearly preparing for future 5G networks with those purchases.
A total of 14 lots in the 3.4GHz band brought in AUD58.75 million, with the two lots purchased by Telstra and Optus accounting for 95 per cent of the amount raised in the band.
Telstra emerged as the big winner in the country’s residual lots spectrum auction last week, purchasing 17 of the 39 lots offered and spending a total of AUD72.53 million, or 78 per cent of the revenue generated.
Vodafone, NBN Co and TPG also secured spectrum through the auction, held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The 2GHz band generated AUD25 million, while operators spent AUD6.8 million in the 1.8GHz band and AUD2.3 million in the 2.3GHz band.
In addition to the 3.4GHz spectrum, Telstra purchased 2x5MHz of 2GHz spectrum in six locations for a total of about AUD16 million. Vodafone Australia spent AUD7 million for 2x10MHz in the same band in Darwin and Hobart.
NBN Co spent AUD4.01 million on five lots, the most expensive being 3.5MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum in Hobart for AUD1.5 million.
TPG’s major purchases were AUD1.36 million for 2x10MHz of 1.8GHz spectrum in Mackay and AUD970,000 for 2x5MHz of 2GHz airwaves in Tasmania.
ACMA announced in late October 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.