Omnibus auction to take place in late 2017; spectrum caps will only apply to 1800 MHz band, not 3.4 GHz, government rules.
The Australian government plans to auction 5G spectrum later this year. Interestingly, it is not going to place any limit on the amount of spectrum a single player will allow to own. The multi-band spectrum will include spectrum in the 3.4Ghz frequency band and these will be used for 5G services. Besides 3.4Ghz, the country will auction airwaves in 1800Mhz, 2Ghz and 2.3Ghz spectrum as well.
“Due to the limited amounts of 3.4 GHz spectrum available in the omnibus spectrum auction, we do not consider allocation limits will sufficiently promote competition to warrant their imposition, and may hinder the economically efficient investment, and economically efficient use of, spectrum,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) document on the matter stated.
Removal of allocation limits on 2 GHz and 2.3 Ghz bandwidth is done with the intention “to allow all telecommunications providers to bid for residual spectrum from previous auctions.” However the Government will continue to retain limits on the 1800 MHz band.
“Current allocation limits in the 1800 MHz band are sufficient to promote competition as they would allow Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) or TPG to acquire spectrum in the Mackay area where they currently do not have any spectrum holdings in the 1800 MHz band,” says the ACCC.
“We also consider that Telstra and Optus hold sufficient spectrum in the 1800 MHz band such that either entity is unlikely to be constrained in the mobile broadband market if it did not acquire further 1800 MHz spectrum in the omnibus spectrum auction,” it added.
Allocation limit on the other frequency bands will not promote competition or help a new market entrant. The ACCC said; “a potential carrier could not build a competitive mobile network using only the spectrum available in the omnibus spectrum auction.”
The country plans to auction 125Mhz of spectrum in the 3.6Ghz (5G band) band at a later date.