Minister announces latest steps in 700 MHz ‘digital dividend’ spectrum auction
14 December 2016
Turnbull Government today announced the latest steps in the upcoming auction of
700 MHz ‘digital dividend’ spectrum, confirming the reserve price and
competition limits for the process.
700 MHz spectrum band is highly valued for 4G mobile broadband services, and
will allow mobile network operators to provide high-speed 4G mobile voice and
data coverage to wide areas of both cities and regional Australia.
blocks of 700 MHz spectrum to be auctioned remained unallocated following
the ‘digital switchover’ of TV broadcasts from analog to digital. The first 700
MHz blocks were sold by auction to Telstra and Optus in 2013, however 30 MHz
(2x15 MHz blocks) of spectrum remained unsold.
Minister for Communications, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield has directed the
Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to set a reserve price of
$1.25 per MHz, per head of population covered. This is the equivalent of
the 2013 ‘digital dividend’ auction reserve price, adjusted for a shorter
on the advice of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the
Minister has also directed the ACMA to set an allocation limit of 2 x 20 MHz
blocks of spectrum. This means that no mobile network operator can own more
than two 20 MHz blocks of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, ensuring that the
auction promotes competition and that the spectrum is allocated in the long‑term
interests of end-users.
Ministerial direction will allow successful bidders to pay for spectrum in
instalments, as long as certain conditions are met. The direction also allows
for a subsequent allocation process, open to all bidders regardless of their
existing spectrum allocation, should any spectrum remain unsold. This will help
ensure that valuable spectrum is not left unused at the end of the process.
ACMA is conducting the auction of 700 MHz spectrum on behalf of the Government
and has consulted on draft auction instruments. The ACMA is expected to call
for applications in January 2017.
The Executive Summary of the ACCC’s
advice to the Minister on allocation limits is available on the Department of
Communications and the Arts’ website at: www.communications.gov.au/ACCC-700Mhz-advice