Australia Announces 700 MHz Spectrum Auction Details

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screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-10-31-42-pmThe Australian government announced the latest steps in the upcoming auction of 700 MHz ‘digital dividend’ spectrum, confirming the reserve price and competition limits for the process, according to telecompaper.

The blocks of 700 MHz spectrum to be auctioned remained unallocated following the switchover of TV broadcasts from analog to digital. The first 700 MHz blocks were sold by auction to Telstra and Optus in 2013. A total 30 MHz (2×15 MHz blocks) of spectrum remained unsold.

Australia’s Minister for Communications has directed the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to set a reserve price of AUD 1.25 per MHz, per person. This is the equivalent of the 2013 ‘digital dividend’ auction reserve price, adjusted for a shorter licence term

Acting on the advice of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Minister has also directed the ACMA to set an allocation limit of 2 x 20 MHz blocks of spectrum. A mobile network operator can own up to two 20 MHz blocks of spectrum in the 700 MHz band. This measure aims to ensure that the auction promotes competition and that the spectrum is allocated in the long‑term interests of end-users.

The Ministerial direction will allow successful bidders to pay for spectrum in instalments. The direction also allows for a subsequent allocation process, open to all bidders regardless of their existing spectrum allocation, should any spectrum remain unsold. This will help ensure that valuable spectrum is not left unused at the end of the process.

The ACMA is conducting the auction of 700 MHz spectrum on behalf of the government and has consulted on draft auction instruments. The ACMA is expected to call for applications in January, 2017.

December 15, 2016

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