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Australia concludes first spectrum auction in "year of 5G"

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Australia has concluded the first of two spectrum auctions scheduled for 2021 – a year communications minister Paul Fletcher has called the "year of 5G".

Regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) made available 2.4 GHz of spectrum in the 26 GHz band in 27 geographic regions across Australia.

Five bidders secured licences in the auction, raising a total of AU$647.64 million, with Telstra, Optus and TPG Telecom all taking significant allocations of spectrum across all geographic areas (see table). From 12-21 April, of the 360 lots available in the auction, 358 were sold.

Regional operators Dense Air, in Sydney and Melbourne, and Pentanet, in Western Australia, were also successful in securing spectrum that will allow the deployment of new and innovative 5G services. Dense Air Australia Pty Ltd won two lots for $28.7 million while Pentanet Limited won four lots for just under $8 million.

“This outcome represents another significant milestone for 5G in Australia. The successful allocation of this spectrum will support high-speed communications services in metropolitan cities and major regional centres throughout Australia,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“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,” said O’Loughlin.

Licences won at auction will come into force later this year, for a 15-year term ending in 2036. The second auction, scheduled for later this year, will see the government allocate low band 5G spectrum – 850/900 MHz band – to extend geographic coverage.

 

Winning bidder                                   Number of lots won               Winning price

Dense Air Australia Pty Ltd                   2                                         $28,689,900

Mobile JV Pty Limited                           86                                       $108,186,700

Optus Mobile Pty Ltd                            116                                      $226,203,100

Pentanet Limited                                    4                                        $7,986,200

Telstra Corporation Limited                   150                                    $276,576,200

Minister for communications, urban infrastructure, cities and the arts, MP Paul Fletcher, said: “With access to 15-year licences for millimetre wave spectrum, network operators will now be able to provide fast, high capacity, and low latency services to build on and enhance their existing 5G networks."

In Australia, 5G is forecast to add up to $2,000 in gross domestic product per person after the first decade of the rollout, according to figures shared by Fletcher.

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