The results of the Federal Government’s recent auction of a large chunk of the 1800MHz band of the Australian radiofrequency spectrum have been announced: Telstra and Optus each spent nearly $200 million on securing more bandwidth, while TPG and Vodafone also splashed out with multi-million dollar investments. The 2015 auction should see Australia’s 4G networks in regional areas get faster and cover wider areas.
As it stands, the vast majority of the 1800MHz block has now been sold in regional areas; only a few small portions remain. Telstra and Optus have secured the lion’s share, with Telstra’s contiguous frequency ranges being nearly unimpacted by competitors outside of Canberra, but Optus contending with both TPG and Vodafone especially in Tasmania. The current state of play sees Telstra holding 25MHz of contiguous 1800MHz spectrum in nine areas and 20MHz in two, while Optus has 25MHz in six and 20MHz in six.
The bidding process took nearly a month and took 179 rounds to cover 147 separate allocations of small blocks of spectrum. 1725–1785 MHz and 1820–1880 MHz portions were sold off in regional Australia, while residual portions were also sold off in Adelaide, regional South Australia and Cairns/Townsville. TPG bought the entire residual Adelaide spectrum, and has been buying frequency chunks for three years.
In total, Optus spent $196 million, Telstra spent $191 million, TPG $88 million and Vodafone $68 million. Both Telstra and Optus picked up spectrum across all 12 regions on sale; Vodafone concentrated on Canberra while TPG spread its purchasing out across higher segments of 1800MHz across all areas. ACMA limited the chunks of spectrum that were offered in individual lots after lobbying from Optus and Vodafone; a maximum of 2x25MHz chunks of spectrum could be purchased out of the 2x60MHz available.