Telstra, Optus, TPG Telecom subsidiary Mobile JV, Pentanet and Dense Air Australia have come away with the rights to radio spectrum in the 26 GHz band, considered an optimal ingredient for delivering 5G services in Australia.
Collectively, the telcos paid $647,642,100, with Telstra being the biggest contributor, winning 150 lots for $276,576,200. Optus, meanwhile, won 116 lots for $226,203,100.
Mobile JV, a subsidiary of the recently merged TPG-Vodafone entity TPG Telecom, won 86 lots for $108,186,700, while Perth telco Pentanet won four lots for $7,986,200. Additionally, Dense Air Australia won two lots for $28,689,900.
Of the 360 lots available in the auction, held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), 358 were sold.
The ACMA conducted the 26 GHz band spectrum auction in April 2021, starting on 12 April 2021 and ending on 21 April 2021. According to the telco industry regulator, the 26 GHz band is a pioneer millimetre Wave (mmWave) spectrum band, optimised for the delivery of 5G services.
“This outcome represents another significant milestone for 5G in Australia,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said. “The successful allocation of this spectrum will support high-speed communications services in metropolitan cities and major regional centres throughout Australia.
“This auction is one among a suite of licensing approaches that the ACMA has introduced in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands to encourage a wide range of innovative communications uses,” she added.
Licences won at auction will come into force later this year, for a 15-year term ending in 2036.
For its part, Telstra secured the spectrum in all major capital cities and regional areas where it was sold.
According to Telstra CEO Andrew Penn, the new mmWave spectrum will dramatically increase capacity and speeds for Telstra customers, building on the comapny's existing 5G presence.
“High speed connectivity is critical to Australia’s future prosperity and our aspirations to be a world leading digital economy,” Penn said. “It has become central to all of our lives – the way we live, work, keep ourselves entertained and stay connected, and more and more 5G will be at the heart of that.
“mmWave spectrum is especially good at providing high-speed mobile broadband in high-density areas, such as built up cities and towns, train stations, sport stadiums and other locations with a high concentration of people using their mobile devices,” he added.
Penn also noted that the telco’s additional capacity would enable the mobile network to be used more effectively for 5G broadband in the home, providing a viable alternative where current fixed connections, such as those provided via the National Broadband Network (NBN), may not meet a customer’s needs.
“We’re delighted with the outcome of the auction and while the licenses won’t come into effect until around the middle of the year, the ACMA is making available early access licensing which will allow us to use the spectrum even sooner,” Penn said.
Telstra claimed its 5G technology now covers almost two-thirds of the Australian population and is on track to reach 75 per cent by the end of June 2021.
Meanwhile, TPG Telecom, through its wholly owned subsidiary Mobile JV, acquired 400 MHz millimetre wave 5G spectrum licences for Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and 600 MHz licenses for Brisbane and all other metropolitan and regional areas.
The acquisition, which effectively results in a tripling of TPG Telecom’s total spectrum holdings, will provide significantly increased capacity for the company to deliver 5G fixed wireless services and super-fast 5G mobile services.
TPG Telecom chief executive officer Iñaki Berroeta said the holdings would deliver an excellent customer experience, and the auction result was a good outcome for shareholders.
“Millimetre wave spectrum is one of the final pieces of our 5G network and will take 5G services to the next level in terms of speeds, performance and capability,” Berroeta said.
“The spectrum will enable us to deliver 5G fixed wireless services as a compelling NBN alternative, and it will also benefit mobile services in high foot-traffic areas such as CBDs,” he added.
Additionally, Singtel-owned Optus acquired 800MHz of 26GHz spectrum in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and a range of regional areas, and 600MHz in Hobart and Margaret River in Western Australia.
“We understand how important our role is in connecting people,” Optus Networks managing director Lambo Kanagaratnam said. “What is truly exciting about this spectrum is the ability to really deliver on the future potential of 5G and ultra-fast speeds.”
“In short, we are armed with the ability to build and expand our 5G network and deliver on the future of 5G in the home, office or on-the-go,” he added.