16 January 2017
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is inviting applications from prospective participants in the April 2017 auction of spectrum licences in the 700 MHz band. The lots on offer remained unsold following the 2013 digital dividend auction.
‘This spectrum band— made available after Australia switched from analog to digital TV—is highly valued for mobile broadband, in particular 4G services,’ said acting ACMA Chairman, Richard Bean. ‘We expect that the spectrum will be used to provide high-speed mobile voice and data coverage to regional and metropolitan Australia.’
A summary of the key auction dates is as follows:
- 16 December 2016—the ACMA made allocation instruments and registered them on the Federal Register of Legislation.
- 16 January 2017—the ACMA advertises auction, publishes the Applicant information package and applications open.
- 13 February 2017—application deadline. This is the date by which auction applicants must submit completed auction forms and pay the application fee.
- 16 March 2017- preference deadline. This is the date by which auction applicants must submit completed lot preference nomination forms and make the substantial deposit.
- To be announced—mock auction and notification of start date.
- 4 April 2017—estimated auction commencement.
The Applicant information package (AIP) and Auction Guide, released today, provides information on the spectrum products on offer, the auction rules and how interested parties can participate in the auction.
In 2013, the ACMA held the digital dividend auction, which offered 2x45 MHz of spectrum (703–748 and 758–803 MHz) in the 700 MHz band (the digital dividend). Two bidders, Optus Mobile and Telstra secured spectrum in the 700 MHz band in the auction for which they paid nearly $2 billion.
Following the auction, 2x15 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum remained unsold (the unsold 700 MHz lots). The ACMA’s allocation procedures for the digital dividend auction provided that any unsold 700 MHz spectrum lots might later be offered for allocation by a procedure and at a time, to be determined by the ACMA.
On 7 October 2016, the Minister for Communications Senator the Hon. Mitch Fifield issued a media release announcing that the unsold 700 MHz lots would be auctioned by the ACMA. The Minister subsequently directed the ACMA on a range of auction parameters.
The ACMA will allocate the unsold 700 MHz lots via an auction scheduled to be conducted in the second quarter of 2017. Following consideration of responses to a public consultation paper on auction parameters, the ACMA made legislative instruments, referred to as allocation instruments, which describe the product being offered through the auction as well as setting out the rules and procedures that will govern the auction process for the allocation of the unsold 700 MHz lots. The ACMA will use existing technical instruments to provide the technical and interference management rules for the operation of radiocommunications devices in the unsold 700 MHz lots (the technical framework).
The allocation instruments are
- the Radiocommunications Spectrum Marketing Plan (700 MHz unallocated lots band) 2016, made under section 39A of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act)
- the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Allocation – 700 MHz Band) Determination 2016, made under sections 60 and 294 of the Act