Australia’s Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) have both submitted proposals to the telecoms regulator recommending that it set limits on the amount of spectrum an operator can hold.

The number 2 and 3 players are keen to prevent market leader Telstra from expanding its market dominance. As part of an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission consultation, the two recently submitted proposals to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which is planning to reallocate 1.8GHz spectrum in regional Australia in an auction in November.

VHA said the principal reason for setting competition limits is to prevent excess concentration of spectrum holdings to the detriment of downstream mobile services competition. “Limits must be set for the allocation of regional 1.8GHz spectrum to promote the long-term interests of end-users by promoting competition in the regional mobile services market.”

It has suggested an in-band limit for the 1.8GHz band as well as a total holdings limit across all bands. It didn’t recommend specific limits. Optus has called for a 20MHz paired limit for the 1.8GHz band.

Telstra has 15.5 million mobile connections, for a 51 per cent market share, according to GSMA Intelligence. Optus has a 31 per cent share while VHA has an 18 per cent share.

VHA claimed in its submission that operators have access to 80 per cent less 1.8GHz spectrum in rural areas than in the five major metropolitan centers. “The lack of access to 1.8GHz spectrum has impeded mobile investment and competition in regional Australia,” it stated.