In 2017, the ACMA auctioned the residual lots in the 1800 MHz, 2 GHz, 2.3 GHz, and 3.4 GHz bands (multiband residual lots), which was offered under a separate process and allocated in October 2019.
A total of 33 lots were offered to applicants through an online auction, conducted in accordance with the procedures specified in the Allocation Determination, using a simple clock auction (SCA) format.
Five applicants (NBN Co Limited, Optus Mobile Pty Ltd, Telstra Corporation Limited, TPG Internet Pty Ltd, and Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Limited) participated in the auction. The auction ran smoothly and resulted in all bidders securing spectrum.
Of the 39 lots available for allocation, 32 were sold, resulting in total revenue of approximately $92.6 million. Six lots were not offered at auction, as single applicants expressed interest for each lot. The ACMA offered these lots to the respective applicants for the pre-determined price, which was the starting price, in accordance with Part 5 of the Allocation Determination. Only one lot (CBRA02) remained unsold that was subsequently offered under a separate process and allocated in October 2019.
|Auction date||Commenced 28 November 2017 and concluded 12 December 2017|
|Amount raised||$92.8 million|
|Licence expiry||The expiry date aligns with spectrum licences currently issued in each of the respective four bands, as follows:
|Winning bidder||Winning price|
*Optus obtained the Canberra unsold lot in Oct 2019
The multiband residual lots included spectrum that remained unallocated after previous allocation and re-issue processes in the 1800 MHz band, 2 GHz band, 2.3 GHz band and 3.4 GHz band, as well as spectrum in the 2 GHz band in the Canberra region that was designated for spectrum licensing for the first time.
The lots from the 1800 MHz band remained unsold at the completion of the 1800 regional allocation. The lots from the 2 GHz, 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands were not re-issued as part of the respective expiring spectrum licence process.
|Licence period||1800 MHz spectrum licences for regional Australia commence on 30 May 2017 and expire on 17 June 2028. The expiry date aligns with the 1800 MHz licences that were re-issued as part of the expiring spectrum licence process that was completed in May 2015|
1800 MHz band
In May 2015, the Minister for Communications made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Re-allocation—Regional 1800 MHz Band) Declaration 2015. The declaration provides that specified parts of the 1800 MHz band in defined geographic areas (regional 1800 MHz spectrum) be reallocated by the issue of spectrum licences. Earlier in January 2014, the minister also made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Designation) Notice No.1 of 2014 making residual spectrum in Adelaide, regional South Australia and North Queensland (residual 1800 MHz spectrum) available for allocation by issuing spectrum licences. The regional and residual 1800 MHz spectrum was subsequently put to market via a simultaneous multi-round ascending (SMRA) auction, which ran from November 2015 to February 2016. Six lots remained unallocated and were offered through the multiband residual lots auction,
2 GHz band
In October 2000, the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Re-allocation) Declaration No.2 of 2000 was made by the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, providing for specified parts of the 2 GHz band (1900–1980 MHz and 2110–2170 MHz) in defined areas to be reallocated by issuing spectrum licences. A copy of the 2 GHz reallocation declaration is available from the ACMA website.
The allocation of the 2 GHz band was conducted by way of an auction under the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Allocation – 2 GHz Band) Determination 2000; this auction concluded on 22 March 2001. Information about what each bidder acquired is available on the ACMA website. Of the 58 lots on offer in the auction, 48 were sold.
On 9 February 2012, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy made the Radiocommunications (Class of Services) Determination 2012 (class of services determination) on the basis that it would be in the public interest to reissue licences to incumbent licensees who had used their licences to provide certain classes of services, including mobile voice and data communication services in the 2 GHz band (1920–1980 MHz and 2110–2170 MHz).
During the reissue process, where all licensees accepted the offer to have their licences re-issued, the ACMA identified additional spectrum in the Canberra area that was not included in the 2 GHz reallocation declaration. The 1920–1935 MHz and 2110–2125 MHz frequency ranges covering the geographic area of Canberra were not originally spectrum-licensed due to possible interference to mobile telecommunications receivers from high-powered deep-space transmitters operating in the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex (CDSCC) at Tidbinbilla. Due to advances in computer processing and terrain modelling since the 2 GHz reallocation declaration was made, the ACMA re-assessed the risk for interference. The analysis indicated that, although there was some potential for interference, there was an opportunity to utilise these parts of the 2 GHz band for terrestrial telecommunications in the Canberra area.
On 21 April 2017, the minister made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Designation – 2 GHz and 3.4 GHz Bands) Notice 2017, following consideration of a recommendation by the ACMA, making residual spectrum in both the 2 GHz (including Canberra) and 3.4 GHz bands available for allocation as spectrum licences.
2.3 GHz band
The 2.3 GHz spectrum that remained unallocated after the conversion to spectrum licences in 2000 was offered for allocation via auction in 2011. The successful bidders and the price paid for the lots sold is available on the ACMA website. The spectrum licences issued as a result of the 2011 allocation process expired on 24 July 2015, in line with the expiry date of the spectrum licences issued in 2000.
On 9 February 2012, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy made the class of services determination 2012 on the basis that it would be in the public interest to reissue licences to licensees who had used their licences to provide wireless broadband services in the 2.3 GHz band.
The ACMA completed the spectrum licence re-issue process for spectrum licensees and the reissued 2.3 GHz spectrum licences expire on 24 July 2030. Some licensees did not take up the offer to have their licences re-issued, leaving some spectrum available for allocation through the multiband residual lots auction.
3.4 GHz band
The Radiocommunications (Spectrum Re-allocation) Declaration 2000 made by the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts provided for specified parts of the 3.4 GHz band to be re-allocated by the issue of spectrum licences. The Radiocommunications (Spectrum Re-allocation) Declaration 2000 is available from the ACMA website.
An allocation of spectrum licences in the 3.4 GHz band was completed in October 2000 (preceding 3.4 GHz allocation). There were 460 spectrum lots sold and 22 lots passed in. The 22 spectrum lots that remained unsold following the 3.4 GHz auction in 2000 were re-offered to market in 2002; however, they again remained unsold. These lots were offered for allocation on a quarterly basis from 2004 to 2008.
On 9 February 2012, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy made the class of services determination on the basis that it would be in the public interest to reissue licences to incumbent licensees who had used the licence to provide wireless broadband services in the 3.4 GHz band.
On 21 April 2017, the Minister for Communications and the Arts made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Designation – 2 GHz and 3.4 GHz Bands) Notice 2017, making residual spectrum in both the 2 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands available for allocation by way of issuing spectrum licences.
Multiband residual lots auction
The unallocated spectrum from the preceding allocations in the 1800 MHz, 2 GHz, 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands as summarised above and the additional spectrum in the Canberra area were offered for allocation at the multiband residual lots auction.
In a media release on 4 September 2017, the Minister for Communications stated ‘the auction of residual spectrum will promote competition in the market and the efficient use of spectrum in Australia. It will also enable all currently unused spectrum in relevant bands to be licensed under the current legislative framework’.
The ACMA released the draft allocation instruments and marketing plans for consultation in August and following making the final instruments, released the Applicant Information Pack (AIP) in October 2017. The applications closed on 27 October and the auction commenced on 28 November 2017 as scheduled.
Update 22 October 2019
A spectrum licence has been allocated in the 3.4 GHz band. View the Notice of allocation of unsold spectrum licence from the multiband residual lots auction.
3.4 GHz band unsold lot from multiband auction
One lot remained unsold at the conclusion of the multiband residual lots auction that was held in November 2017. The unsold lot was lot number 29 in Canberra at the frequency 3490-3492.5 MHz and consisting of 2.5 MHz of bandwidth as set out in Table 1 of Schedule 1 in the Radiocommunications Spectrum Marketing Plan (3.4 GHz unallocated lots band) 2017.
In September-October 2019 this unsold spectrum was allocated in accordance with the procedure set out in Schedule 4 of the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Allocation – Multi-band Auction) Determination 2017. A spectrum licence was issued to Optus Mobile for a post-auction pre-determined price of $5,558.40. This spectrum licence will expire on 13 December 2030.