Telstra has agreed to cough up $72.5 million for additional mobile spectrum usage in Australia, as the country’s telco industry regulator completes its latest multi-band residual lots auction.
The latest mobile spectrum auction by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), saw previously unclaimed spectrum across a number of mobile bandwidth ranges snapped up by the country’s largest mobile carriers.
“There was good competition across the 1800 MHz, 2 GHz, 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands,” ACMA chair, Nerida O’Loughlin, said. “The additional spectrum will mean improved services and greater choice for consumers in those areas where lots have been allocated.”
As a result of the auction, Australia’s second-largest telco, Optus, has agreed to pay $6.5 million for its new mobile spectrum share, while Vodafone has allocated $7.2 million for its bid in the spectrum auction.
Meanwhile, NBN Co bid $4 million for its share of spectrum, while Australia’s latest mobile network entrant, TPG, has put forward $2.3 million for its own share of the spectrum.
A total price of approximately $92.6 million will be paid by bidders for the new spectrum.
“We’re pleased with the outcome of the auction," Telstra said in a statement. "The additional spectrum we have secured will mean we can continue to deliver the best experience for our customers and meet the ever growing demand for data.
"Our investment of $72.5 million in this auction, together with more than $3.4 billion we have invested over the past 15 years in acquiring our wireless spectrum portfolio, underpins Telstra’s ability to support more customers and more traffic on Australia’s largest mobile network.
":Some of this spectrum will also support the early evolution of 5G technology beyond the trials we already have planned for 2018," the company said.
In the words of the ACMA, the winning mobile network providers have all secured spectrum that will “help them meet the rising demand for mobile and fixed wireless broadband services”.
For his part, Optus Networks managing director, Dennis Wong, said the telco remained focused on the efficient use of spectrum holdings to "ensure network capacity is optimised for customers’ future high speed data demands, and that new spectrum will ensure Optus is prepared for the significant and exciting changes 5G will bring in the future".
The spectrum was acquired through the multi-band residual lots auction, which was conducted by the Authority. The auction process used a simple clock auction (SCA) format. It commenced on 28 November and concluded on 12 December after 85 rounds.
According to the ACMA, a further six lots were not offered at auction, as only one applicant had nominated interest for each of the lots.
The Authority said it will offer these lots to the unnamed applicant for a pre-determined price, which represents the starting price for such a sale.
In April, TPG and Vodafone Australia agreed to hand over a combined payment of more than $1.5 billion after pitching winning bids in one of the Government’s previous mobile spectrum sell-offs.
The ACMA auction of unsold 700 MHz spectrum bandwidth lots began on 4 April, and wrapped up in mid-April.
The 700 MHz spectrum that was up for grabs added to the spectrum sold at auction in 2013, which is already being put to use by the country’s largest telcos to provide 4G mobile broadband.
The winning telcos in that auction were TPG Internet, which secured 2 x 10 MHz for $1,260,161,000, and Vodafone Hutchison Australia, securing 2 x 5 MHz for $285,907,000.
TPG’s purchase saw the telco become the fourth major network carrier in the local market.