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FAQs: 850/900 MHz band auction

Responses to any auction-related questions will be posted here, without attribution. We may modify the wording of questions to assist with clarity.

Before the auction

Can a set-aside applicant use the MSR for the 900 upper product?

Under subsection 31(3) of the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Allocation – 850/900 MHz Band) Determination 2021 (the allocation determination), a set-aside applicant becomes a set-aside participant in the auction when it elects to take up a set-aside lot in both the 900 upper major population and regional population products.

A set-aside participant may not select a minimum spectrum requirement (MSR) in the 900 upper product. This restriction does not apply if a set-aside applicant does not elect to take up its set-aside lots.

Correction to the 850/900 MHz band auction guide

On page 50, the assignment price calculation for bidder C should read as follows (amendments in bold):

Assignment price (bidder C)  = $2 + 8(1⁄1 + 1)

                                               = $2 + 8(1⁄2)

                                               = $6

When will the 850/900 MHz band auction commence?

The 850/900 MHz band auction is set to commence in late-November 2021.

What information is required as part of an application to participate in the auction?

An interested party must, before the application deadline on 21 September 2021, pay the application fee and give the ACMA:

  • a completed application form
  • a Deed of Acknowledgement
  • a Deed of Confidentiality
  • information about their associates.

Will the ACMA run a workshop outlining the enhanced simultaneous multi-round ascending (ESMRA) auction methodology?

The ACMA is planning to offer each bidder a one-hour training workshop prior to its mock auction. This will be conducted by Innovative Auctions. We also plan to provide bidders with user guides for the auction system soon after the application deadline on 21 September.

When do I need a witness to sign a deed?

We will accept an individual signing the deed without a witness if that is permitted under the relevant state or territory law. Applicants should seek their own advice about the requirements in their area.

Can another person submit a Deed of Financial Security on behalf of the applicant?

Yes, we will accept a Deed of Financial Security submitted on behalf of an applicant by another person. For example, this may be 'Orange Pty Ltd on behalf of Red Tel'. The Promisor must be as per Form 8 – Deed of Financial Security.

Do we need a proof of authority if an authorised officer signs the application?

Proof of authority – such as a copy of Power of Attorney, and/or any other delegated instrument that the applicant relies upon – should be included with the application form if an authorised officer signs it.

Can application details be changed after the application deadline?

After the application deadline, application details cannot be changed. The ACMA will accept minor corrections, such as typographical errors.

If an applicant becomes a winning bidder, the licence will be issued in the name of that bidder. For example, if ‘Red Tel’ is the winning bidder, the licence cannot be issued to ‘Orange Pty Ltd’.

Can an applicant use the relevant statutory declaration form in their jurisdiction?

The ACMA will only accept statutory declarations signed using the Commonwealth prescribed statutory declarations form. The statutory declaration is signed under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959. A copy of the form is available in Form 6 of the Application information package.

During the auction

Can bidders participate in the auction from outside of Australia?

Bidders will be able to access the bidding software from overseas locations. Any authorised persons bidding from overseas should make sure they have a reliable internet connection. Their device must also meet the minimum requirements set out in section 4.1 of the auction guide.

Overseas bidders should note that auction rounds will only take place between 9 am and 5 pm ACT time on working days.

Can bidders bid on other products after submitting their eligibility nomination form?

Bidders are able to switch demand between products during the auction. This includes any products for which a bidder did not specify a provisional start demand in their eligibility nomination form. Bidders may bid (or switch demand) within their maximum eligibility points, and within the applicable allocation limits.

If a bidder decreases their start demands during the pre-bidding phase, and this causes a decrease in their eligibility points, then they will only be able to bid up to those eligibility points in the first clock round of the auction. If the bidder decreases their demand in a clock round of the primary stage and this causes a decrease in their eligibility points, then they will only be able to bid up to those eligibility points in the subsequent clock round.

Example Scenario:

A bidder could switch 2 lots of demand from the 850 major population product to the 900 upper major population product, or to one lot each of the 900 lower major population and 900 upper major population product, subject to:

  • sufficient excess demand in the 850 major population product
  • sufficient eligibility points
  • not violating the allocation limits.

Can bidders see other bidders’ posted demands in the auction?

Bidders will be able to see their own posted demand for the lots of each product at the posted price, and the supply/aggregate excess demand. However, bidders will not be able to see information about posted demands of other bidders. The information policy for the auction is at clause 8 of Schedule 2 to the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Allocation – 850/900 MHz Band) Determination 2021.

After the auction

When will spectrum licences commence and expire?

Spectrum licences issued to winning bidders will be for a duration of 20 years.

The licences will commence on 1 July 2024.

Can licences be issued to a person other than the person who is an applicant?

Under section 62 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992, the ACMA can only issue a spectrum licence to the person to whom it is allocated. Therefore, the person who applies to participate in the auction and subsequently wins a lot of a product will be issued a licence.

Will spectrum licences won at the 850/900 MHz auction incur a spectrum licence tax (SLT)?

Yes, the ACMA recently made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Tax) Determination 2021 updating SLT arrangements. This includes the 850/900 MHz band.

However, spectrum licences allocated in the 850/900 MHz auction will not commence until 1 July 2024. Winning bidders at the auction will not incur a spectrum licence tax for this spectrum until 11 October 2024.

What is the SLT?

Under the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Tax) Act 1997, SLT is applied to spectrum licences on a certain date each year. The Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Tax) Determination 2021 sets out the date (11 October) and amount to be paid.

Why is the SLT charged?

It allows the ACMA to:

  1. Recover the indirect costs of spectrum management. This includes international coordination, domestic planning, interference investigation and policy development from spectrum licensees.
  2. Recover costs related to the Australian Government's electromagnetic energy (EME) program (as directed by the Minister in 2020). Find out more about the EME program and its funding.

What’s in the SLT and who pays it?

There are 2 components of the SLT:

  1. Main component – applies to all spectrum licences.
  2. EME component – applies to designated spectrum licences. This means all spectrum licences except those issued to Commonwealth government departments and agencies, those used only for television outside broadcast services, those used only for the provision of rail safety, and rail operations or rail control.

How much is the SLT?

For the main component, each spectrum licence pays a proportion of the 'base amount' for the spectrum band that it is in (see base amounts table below). This is based on the amount of spectrum specified in, and the population of the area specified in, the core conditions of the licence. The ‘base amount’ is a component of the tax formula and represents the indirect costs of the ACMA’s spectrum management functions attributable to spectrum licences.

As specified in item 2 of the table, the frequency bands of the 850/900 MHz band are included alongside the frequency ranges for the 850 MHz expansion band.  The base amount for these frequency ranges is $62,146. This represents the indirect costs of the ACMA’s spectrum management functions attributable to spectrum licences in this band.


Frequency band

Total specified spectrum

Base amount ($)


Column 1

Column 2

Column 3


703 MHz to 748 MHz

758 MHz to 803 MHz

90 MHz



814 MHz to 845 MHz

859 MHz to 915 MHz

935 MHz to 960 MHz

112 MHz



1710 MHz to 1755 MHz

1805 MHz to 1850 MHz

90 MHz



1755 MHz to 1785 MHz

1850 MHz to 1880 MHz

60 MHz



1920 MHz to 1980 MHz

2110 MHz to 2170 MHz

120 MHz



2302 MHz to 2400 MHz

98 MHz



2500 MHz to 2570 MHz

2620 MHz to 2690 MHz

140 MHz



2570 MHz to 2620 MHz

50 MHz



3400 MHz to 3700 MHz

300 MHz



20,200 MHz to 21,200 MHz

30,000 MHz to 31,000 MHz

2,000 MHz



25,100 MHz to 27,500 MHz

2,400 MHz


Note: Each frequency band in column 1 comprises a part of the spectrum in which the ACMA has allocated or issued spectrum licences, or has made arrangements for the allocation and issue of spectrum licences.

For the EME component, the total annual component ($2.6 million each year until 2023–2024 when it reduces to $1.9 million) is apportioned among designated spectrum licences based on the main component contributions.

The SLT for spectrum licences will apply as described above, except for the downshift spectrum (i.e., the 1 MHz paired in the frequency range 824–825/869–870 MHz). The main component for this spectrum is set at the minimum tax of $7. We expect the EME component of the SLT would, in 2021, be in the order of $29, for a total annual SLT amount of $36.

For further details on the calculation of each component, see the Explanatory Statement to the Determination.

When is the SLT collected?

On 11 October each year, and collected shortly after.

Will the ACMA reconsider the device registration exemption threshold set out in the marketing plan and sample spectrum licence?

As stated in the Draft Five-year spectrum outlook 2021–26, we have committed to reviewing the spectrum licence technical frameworks for existing spectrum-licensed bands. This is to ensure arrangements are efficient and can cater for new technology such as 5G and active antenna systems. We aim to start a review of the 700 MHz spectrum licence technical framework in the last quarter of 2021. The issue of the device registration exemption threshold for 850/900 MHz spectrum licences will be considered in that process.

Are there early access arrangements?

The ACMA will consider early access applications from winning bidders in the auction on a case-by-case basis. An early access apparatus licence may be issued during the re-allocation period if the ACMA is satisfied that special circumstances justify issuing the licence.

If early access is granted, a PMTS Class B transmitter licence will be issued, which authorises access to unencumbered spectrum before spectrum licences commence. All early access apparatus licences issued in the 850/900 MHz band will include a condition to protect incumbent services during the re-allocation period. Further information on early access arrangements is available in section 5.3 of the auction guide in the Applicant information package.

When will the tax arrangements applicable to early access arrangements commence?

Tax arrangements for early access PMTS Class B transmitter licences will commence shortly after the auction. The Radiocommunications (Transmitter Licence Tax) Determination 2015 (the tax determination) will be amended to set a $0.1445/MHz/pop rate for PMTS Class B transmitter licences in the 850/900 MHz band. The amendment to the tax determination will be made shortly after the auction. 

When can early access applications be submitted? 

Applications for early access arrangements can be submitted from the later of either:

  • approximately one month after the conclusion of the auction
  • early February 2022

until spectrum licences commence on 1 July 2024. 

Prior to submitting an early access application, winning bidders must submit a special circumstances application under paragraph 153P(2)(e) of the Radiocommunications Act 1992. This is because the spectrum is subject to a re-allocation declaration. These applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

When can early access licences commence?

The ACMA will issue any early access licences as quickly as possible. However, subject to the auction outcome and the number of devices involved, the licence build process could be complex and time-consuming. 


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