The ACMA

Major projects

1800 MHz band

Applications open for 1800 MHz auction

From today the Australian Communications and Media Authority is inviting applications to participate in the November 2015 auction of spectrum licences in the 1800 MHz band. The ACMA will auction spectrum in markets throughout regional Australia in the ranges 1725-1785 MHz and 1820–1880 MHz, as well as residual spectrum from the recently-completed reissue of expiring spectrum licences in the band.

The ACMA expects there will be widespread interest in this band, which is internationally-harmonised for mobile broadband applications. The auction format will allow the spectrum, divided into 147 lots, to be offered simultaneously using an online auction methodology.

The invitation is set out in a comprehensive Applicant Information Pack (AIP) comprising an auction guide, relevant legislative instruments and accompanying explanatory statements and the auction forms booklet. The closing date for applications is 1 October 2015.

The AIP includes details of the starting price for all lots, as shown in the table at the end of this release. The starting prices also function as the reserve prices for each lot and have been calculated on the basis of $0.08/MHz/pop, a figure chosen to maximise the overall public benefit with a view to ensuring the efficient allocation and use of the spectrum.

In accordance with a direction from the Minister for Communications, the auction rules prohibit any party from acquiring more than 2 x25 MHz of the available spectrum in the auction, thereby intending to promote diversity and competition amongst potential users.

‘The release of the AIP allows interested parties to consider the vital information on the 1800 MHz band auction,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘This includes details of the auction process and other key issues such as eligibility payments and the reserve or starting price.’

For the 1800 MHz band auction, the ACMA will conduct a Simultaneous Multi Round Ascending (SMRA) auction using software developed by internationally- renowned online auction experts, Power Auctions. In an SMRA auction, all lots are open for bidding at the same time. All lots remain open as long as there are acceptable bids placed on any lot.

‘Spectrum is a finite natural resource,’ Mr Chapman said. ‘When demand exceeds supply for spectrum in a band, the ACMA commonly allocates spectrum by auction. This provides a transparent process to establish a market price, ensuring licences are allocated to those who value them most highly.

‘The ACMA considers that the price paid by bidders at an auction should provide a reasonably accurate indication of the true market value of the spectrum and identify the highest value use of the band,’ he added.

More information about the 1800 MHz auction can be found here.

For more information, please see the Backgrounder below, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Blake Murdoch, on (02) 9334 7817, 567 391 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 46/2015 - 11 September 

Backgrounder

There is increasing demand for access to the regional 1800 MHz band from a variety of stakeholders. This demand has mainly been driven by the availability of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology equipment in the band to deliver mobile broadband service. However, existing regulatory arrangements in the band do not enable this demand to be met adequately. In 2012, the ACMA commenced a review of arrangements in the band with a view to identifying options to facilitate the further deployment of mobile services.

Spectrum licensing is the ACMA’s preferred long-term arrangement for the regional 1800 MHz band. This licensing framework would maximise flexibility for licensees, enable efficiencies with adjacent spectrum-licensed holdings in metropolitan areas and, by providing new licensees the opportunity to gain access to the band, best ensure the band moves over time to its highest value use or uses.

In February 2015, the ACMA released for public comment a draft of a recommendation to the Minister about reallocating spectrum in the regional 1800 MHz band by issuing spectrum licences. Following consideration of all stakeholder submissions, the ACMA made recommendations to the Minister about the regional 1800 MHz band under section 153F of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act).

On 26 May 2015, the Minister made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Re-allocation – Regional 1800 MHz Band) Declaration 2015 (the declaration). The declaration allows the ACMA to proceed to allocate the 1800 MHz band spectrum by auction.

Following the making of the declaration, the ACMA began preparations for an auction in November 2015 to allocate:

  • spectrum in the frequency range 1725 MHz–1785 MHz and 1820 MHz–1880 MHz in regional Australia (‘the regional 1800 MHz band’); and
  • spectrum that remains unallocated from the recently completed expiring spectrum licence process for the 1800 MHz band (‘residual lots’).

On 26 May 2015, the Minister made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Limits – Regional 1800 MHz Band) Direction 2015 which requires that no party may use more than 2x25 MHz of the regional 1800 MHz band. The ACMA’s auction rules give effect to this direction by prohibiting any party from acquiring more than this quantum of spectrum in the auction.

In preparation for the 1800 MHz band auction, the ACMA was required to make a number of legislative instruments. These instruments included an allocation determination (made under sections 60 and 294 of the Act), a marketing plan (made under section 39 and section 39A of the Act) and an omnibus variation instrument to update the technical instruments which underpin spectrum licences in the band (made under section 145 and section 262 of the Act).

Following public consultation, on 28 August 2015 the ACMA made the legislative instruments relevant to the regional 1800 MHz band spectrum auction. The instruments were registered on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments (FRLI) on 1 September and commenced on 2 September. The instruments can be found on the following links:

The AIP includes the information outlined in section 4.5 of the allocation determination, including the auction guide, legislative instruments, forms, details about fees and payments, key dates and information on how to lodge auction documents.

The 1800 MHz band SMRA auction will be run online. There will be 147 lots on offer. The ACMA invites interested stakeholders who wish to participate in the auction to consider the contents of the AIP and consider whether to apply by the 1 October 2015 deadline.

 

Region

Starting price

Darwin

$106,000

North Queensland (Cairns/Townsville)

$399,000

Central Queensland (Mackay)

$305,000

South Queensland (Maryborough)

$917,000

Northern New South Wales (Grafton)

$421,000

Western New South Wales (Dubbo)

$266,000

Canberra (including south coast of New South Wales)

$565,000

Southern New South Wales/Riverina (Albury)

$455,000

Regional Victoria

$705,000

Tasmania

$438,000

Regional South Australia

$274,000

Regional Western Australia

$237,000

North Queensland (Cairns/Townsville)

$199,000

Regional South Australia

$137,000

Adelaide

$1,134,000

Last updated: 11 September 2015

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