Telstra, Optus, TPG, Vodafone splurge on 1800MHz spectrum


news Four major telcos have together splashed out over half a billion dollars on shares of the 1800 MHz spectrum band, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The sale of a new allocation of the spectrum band was conducted via an auction that commenced on 30 November 2015, and ended 4 February.

The four telcos firms – Telstra, Optus, TPG and Vodafone –brought in total revenues (including withdrawal penalties) of approximately $543.5 million, with totals for each successful bidder being as follows:

  • Optus Mobile: $196 million
  • Telstra: $191 million
  • TPG Internet: $88 million
  • Vodafone: $68 million

The auction ran over 179 rounds, the ACMA said, allowing partaking firms to identify and place bids on targeted portions of the 1800 MHz band in specific geographical areas.

Strongly competitive bidding resulted in the majority of lots on offer being sold for amounts that exceeded original expectations, according to the authority.

“The 1800 MHz band spectrum auction process ran very efficiently and the simultaneous multi-round ascending (SMRA) auction format proved highly effective in testing the market value of the spectrum and allocating it to those parties that valued it most,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

“Due to the high level of international harmonisation of this band for mobile broadband services, industry – and ultimately citizens and consumers – will benefit from the flow-on economic and social effects of this allocation process,” he said.

1800 MHz spectrum is already used extensively in Australia’s major cities, primarily for the provision of 4G telecommunications.

“With previously unallocated 1800 MHz spectrum in regional areas now in the hands of mobile broadband service providers, the auction should enable improvements to the availability and performance of 4G telecommunications services right across regional Australia,” Chapman said.

The auction was held to reallocate spectrum in the following frequency ranges and areas:

Regional 1800 MHz spectrum: 725–1785 MHz and 1820–1880 MHz in regional Australia. Lots were offered in 12 separate geographic regions, each in 10 MHz lots in a paired configuration. Each lot had 5 MHz in the lower portion of the band (1725–1785 MHz) and 5 MHz in the upper portion (1820–1880 MHz).

1800 MHz band spectrum licences for regional Australia will commence on 30 May 2017, and will expire on 17 June 2028. Spectrum licences for the residual 1800 MHz lots will commence “as soon as practicable after the auction” following the payment of relevant access charges and associated ACMA administrative processes. These lots will also expire on 17 June 2028.


  1. It’s a pity this spectrum can’t be allocated to fixed wireless broadband, instead of just mobile.
    NBN’s fixed wireless frequency spectrum is too high at 2300 MHz, giving limited range (only 14km or so), and must be line of sight.
    This is relatively useless as it doesn’t capture those people that are further out of town and struggling with tiny data plans on mobile broadband. (New satellite is not much better either, as data plans are still too small and expensive, and latency sucks!)
    Dropping to 1800 MHz would help with improved range and mild terrain obstruction.
    I’m on Telstra’s 4G 1800 MHz network with mobile broadband, 30km from the basestation, non line of sight. Works well – great speeds, and low latency, except data plans suck! Way too small and expensive.
    If NBN or these mobile carriers could provide fixed wireless on this same spectrum, (or even better on 700MHz) it’d be a great service!
    Ironically, most of the rural customers are ‘fixed’ broadband customers any, as they already need fixed yagi antennas on their homestead to get the service, so hardly ‘mobile’.
    The sooner that regional carriers recognise this fact, the better!
    Save the small , expensive mobile data plans for those that are actually ‘mobile’.
    NBN fixed wireless is a great service, just doesn’t reach far enough into rural areas, where it’s needed most!

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