by Jennifer O'Brien

Competition limits set for 5G spectrum auction

Jul 12, 2018
MobileSmall and Medium Business

The Federal Government has announced competition limits for telcos seeking to bid for spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band. It’s a move that pushes the ‘auction of spectrum’ for 5G mobile services one step closer.

But Australian mobile telcos gearing up for the 5G spectrum auction – slated for October – must first have their existing holdings assessed to determine how much extra they can own.

Similar to the 4G spectrum auctions, there will be a limit on how much 3.6GHz spectrum they can own for forthcoming 5G services.

Minister for Communications and the Arts Senator Mitch Fifield said spectrum is a highly valued and finite resource which is essential for a range of everyday services, particularly mobile broadband.

In preparation for the auction, Minister Fifield has directed the ACMA to impose allocation limits of 60 MHz in metropolitan areas and 80 MHz in regional areas.

According to the government, these limits account for existing spectrum holdings in the broader 3400–3700 MHz band (which is all suitable for 5G), meaning that carriers which already have significant holdings in this band would be limited in the amount of new spectrum they could bid for, or may not be able to participate in the auction. “The next generation of mobile services, 5G, will deliver significantly faster mobile data speeds and allow for millions of new devices to connect. The 3.6 GHz band is recognised internationally as a key band for telcos to roll out new 5G networks,” he said. “Australians have a voracious appetite for mobile data, and our competitive telecommunications market means that Australians already enjoy some of the fastest mobile broadband speeds in the world.

“These auction limits promote competition in the telecommunications industry while ensuring this scarce spectrum is put to its highest-value use.”

These allocation limits will allow for a competitive auction process while preventing any one bidder from acquiring an amount of spectrum which could preclude other telcos from rolling out 5G networks, the government said. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is preparing to auction 125 MHz of available spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band later this year.

The limits were set following careful consideration of advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which consulted with relevant parties, according to the government.