The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) expects to begin in November the auction of spectrum that will play a key role in the initial wave of wireless services based on the next-generation 5G standard.
The ACMA is preparing to auction off 125MHz of spectrum in the 3.6GHz band. The auction will be offered in 350 lots across 14 regions.
The regulator revealed today that the spectrum would have a reserve price of $0.08/MHz/pop for spectrum in metro areas (excluding Perth lower lots, which will have a starting price of $0.053/MHz/pop). Regional spectrum will start at $0.03/MHz/pop. (The $/MHz/pop pricing is the base price multiplied by bandwidth in MHz in a geographic area, multiplied by the area’s population.)
3.6GHz is the key international pioneer band for 5G.
“As a key enabler of the digital economy, the 3.6 GHz spectrum will ensure Australia is well-placed to realise the benefits of 5G,” said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin. “Timely release of 5G-compatible spectrum will facilitate the early delivery of next generation 5G services to the Australian public and industry.”
The auction will use Power Auctions-developed software and be run in an enhanced simultaneous multi-round ascending format.
Last month the federal government revealed that it had set spectrum limits for prospective participants in the auction. A single bidder will be unable to obtain more than 60MHz in metro areas and 80MHz in regional areas.
The spectrum limits were set following consultation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, although the ACCC had recommended slightly different limits in some areas.
Telstra and Optus have both indicated they intend to begin offering 5G-based services in 2019. Vodafone also plans to offer 5G services but has played its cards close to its chest. TPG, which is preparing to launch Australia’s fourth mobile network, has also indicated its interest in offering 5G services.
Communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield last month said that the government is in the “final stages” of its rewrite of the Radiocommunications Act.
The growth in demand for spectrum since the introduction of the legislation in 1992 makes the rewriting of the act a pressing issue, the minister said.