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Auction summary - 3.6 GHz band (2018)

Quick summary

The ACMA conducted the 3.6 GHz band spectrum auction in November and December 2018. The 3.6 GHz band is recognised internationally as a key band for 5G services. The 350 lots of 5MHz each were offered for sale by enhanced simultaneous multi-round ascending (ESMRA) auction. All lots were sold to Dense Air Australia, Mobile JV, Optus Mobile and Telstra raising total revenue of approximately $853 million.

Auction date

Commenced 20 November 2018 and concluded 6 December 2018

Amount raised

$853 million

Licence expiry

13 December 2030

Results

Winning bidder Spectrum sold Winning price

Dense Air Australia Pty Ltd

29 x 5 MHz

$18,492,000

Mobile JV Pty Limited

131 x 5 MHz

$263,283,800

Optus Mobile Pty Ltd

47 x 5 MHz

$185,069,100

Telstra Corporation Limited

143 x 5 MHz

$386,008,400

Total   $852,510,500

Spectrum details

Band details

3575-3700 MHz

Licence type Spectrum licences
Previous use Fixed satellite service (FSS) earth stations, point-to-point links and site-based wireless broadband services authorised under apparatus licences
Licence period 30 March 2020 – 13 December 2030

Allocation details

Type of allocation Price based allocation of spectrum licences under s60 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 following declaration of encumbered spectrum for reallocation by spectrum licensing under s153B(1).
Method of sale Enhanced simultaneous multi-round ascending auction.
Competition limits

No bidder could acquire:

  • more than 60 MHz of the relevant band in each metropolitan area
  • more than 80 MHz of the relevant band in each regional area

The relevant band referred to the entire 3400–3700 MHz band so included bidders’ existing holdings in the 3.4 GHz band.

Allocation information

Allocation instruments

Spectrum reallocation declarations

Ministerial direction

Technical information

Technical instruments

Ministerial direction

Related information

Background

Before 2008, the 3.6 GHz band was mainly used by fixed point-to-point links and earth stations of the fixed satellite services (FSS). On 14 October 2008, the ACMA announced its intention to allow the use of the 3.6 GHz band to deploy site-based broadband wireless access services in regional and remote areas of Australia. These were authorised by apparatus licences. Capital cities, except for Hobart, were not included in the release to preserve future planning options within those areas.

Since that time, the band was considered under WRC-15 agenda 1.1, resulting in the 3600–3700 MHz band being identified for international mobile telecommunications (IMT) in Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, and the US. The 3.6 GHz band also forms a subset of the 3300–3800 MHz band, which since 2016 has been recognised internationally as a pioneer band for 5G services. The standardisation of both non-standalone and standalone 5G equipment was completed by the 3GPP in June 2018. Several domestic and international operators commenced trials of 5G services. Europe, the US, China, Japan and Korea were also investigating or announced their intention to allocate all or some of the 3300–3800 MHz band for next generation fixed/mobile wireless broadband services.

The ACMA recognised that the 3.6 GHz band was being targeted as a pioneer band for 5G services internationally, and in October 2016 released a discussion paper on the future use of the band. A further options paper for the future use of the band was released in June 2017 for consultation. In October 2017, the ACMA released its decisions and preliminary views paper on the future use of the band and a draft spectrum reallocation recommendation that the Minister for Communications (the minister) declare that spectrum in the band be subject to reallocation by issuing spectrum licenses.

On 5 March 2018, following consideration of the ACMA’s recommendation, the minister made three spectrum reallocation declarations under section 153B of the Act. The ACMA then commenced preparing for and consulting on the allocation matters.

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