Applications open for Digital Dividend

Applicants will be charged a $25,000 application fee to bid for the Digital Dividend.

Applications have opened for the Digital Dividend, with the auction to be held 16 April, 2013.

As part of the Digital Dividend, 45MHz of spectrum will be available in the 700MHz band. Spectrum will also be available in the 2.5GHz band.

The spectrum is important to the mobile industry because it can be used for 4G LTE services.

“This spectrum will further transform the way Australians communicate and do business,” Chris Chapman, ACMA chairman, said in a statement.

“Australia is on the cusp of realising the very significant social and economic benefit from this valuable public asset.”

Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, set the reserve price of the spectrum at $1.36 per MHz per head of population in the 700MHz band in mid-December last year.

The reserve price was set at 3 cents per MHz per head of population in the 2.5GHz band.

Telstra is the only telco to signal its intention to bid for the spectrum.

David Epstein, vice-president, corporate and regulatory affairs at Optus, has slammed the reserve price, stating it is “unworkable and out of line with international outcomes” and has hinted it might not particpate in the Digital Dividend due to the high price.

However, Paul O’Sullivan, Optus chief executive, has previously stated the 700MHz spectrum would be “vital for delivering 4G LTE, especially in regional Australia, because of its ability to deliver LTE over longer distances”, and the telco has already been involved with trials on the 700MHz band in Bendigo, Victoria.

Vodafone has also stated that it would not participate in the auction under the current terms, confirming earlier predictions the telco would pass on the auction as it already has sufficient spectrum to operate its 4G network on.

Bidders for the auction will have until 24 January this year to submit an application and will be charged a $25,000 application fee.

The auction will be held online 16 April using the combinatorial clock auction method, which will allow bidders to make different combinations of bids across the two spectrum bands.

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