Government raises $721.2m from 5G spectrum sale


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Friday, 24 November, 2023

Government raises $721.2m from 5G spectrum sale

Telstra has emerged as by far the top spender in a recent auction for spectrum in the 3.4 GHz and 3.7 GHz bands, with the company paying over $545.6 million for 326 lots of the prized 5G-compatible spectrum.

NBN Co meanwhile will pay $14.3 million for 200 lots of spectrum, primarily in the 3.4 GHz band. Telstra and NBN Co were the only winning bidders for 3.4 GHz spectrum, paying a total of $25.8 million between them.

Optus will pay $33.5 million for four lots of spectrum in the 3.7 GHz band, while TPG Telecom and subsidiary Vodafone Australia will pay $128.2 million for 44 lots of 3.7 GHz spectrum.

In total, the auction will raise $721.7 million for the government, with $695.9 million coming from 3.7 GHz spectrum. Of the 588 lots available, 574 were sold with the remaining 14 lots left unsold.

The new licences will come into effect soon, with the 3.4 GHz band licences expiring in December 2030 and the 3.7 GHz band licences expiring in January 2044.

The auction was held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The regulator’s Chair, Nerida O’Loughlin, said the auction met its strategic objectives for the spectrum.

“The allocation of this spectrum will support digital connectivity, promote competition and facilitate investment in new services for Australian consumers and businesses across metropolitan and regional areas of Australia,” she said.

“This type of spectrum is important for the deployment of innovative technologies and has a wide range of uses, including the deployment of 5G services. The revenue raised reflects the market value placed on this spectrum as a valuable public asset.”

ACMA also recently completed an administrative allocation of area wide spectrum licences in the 3.4–4.0 GHz band in remote areas of Australia, and plans to commence a similar allocation for 3800–3950 MHz spectrum in metro and regional areas and 3750–3950 MHz spectrum in rural areas in the first quarter of 2024.

A further allocation of restricted cell apparatus licences in the 3.95–4 GHz spectrum in regional and metropolitan areas and 3.4–3.475 GHz spectrum in urban excise areas will be held sometime in 2024.

Image: iStock.com/Daria Nipot

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