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Spectrum allocation and auction summary – 850/900 MHz band (2021)

Quick summary

The 850/900 MHz band spectrum auction started on 30 November 2021 and finished on 6 December 2021.

Spectrum in the 850/900 MHz band can support wireless broadband services across Australia. It will allow winning bidders to run both 4G and 5G networks.

All 16 lots of spectrum in the 850/900 MHz band were allocated. The total revenue raised was $2,091,618,000 from 2 winning bidders, Optus and Telstra. This was equivalent to almost $1.21/MHz/pop.


Two participants acquired spectrum in the allocation.


Number of lots acquired

Winning price

Optus Mobile Pty Ltd



Telstra Limited  4 $615,660,000

Access the full auction results.

Spectrum details

Frequency ranges

850 MHz expansion band:

  • 814–824 MHz paired with 859–869 MHz
  • 824–825 MHz paired with 869–870 MHz (downshift spectrum).

900 MHz band:

  • 890–915 MHz paired with 935–960 MHz.

Geographic area

Australia-wide, in the major population area and the regional area as set out in the Radiocommunications Spectrum Marketing Plan (850/900 MHz Band) 2021.

Licence type

Spectrum licences

Previous use

850 MHz expansion band: Apparatus-licensed for:

  • land mobile services
  • fixed point-to-point services
  • fixed point-to-multipoint services.

900 MHz band: Apparatus-licensed for 3G mobile telecommunications services.

Licence period

850/900 MHz band (excluding downshift spectrum): 20 years commencing 1 July 2024, expiring 30 June 2044.

Downshift spectrum: Commencing 1 July 2024, expiring 17 June 2028.

Allocation details

Type of allocation

Price-based allocation under section 60 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act). This follows a re-allocation declaration made by the then Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts pursuant to section 153B(1) of the Act. It is applicable under clause 120 of Schedule 3 to the Radiocommunications Legislation Amendment (Reform and Modernisation) Act 2020.

Method of sale

Enhanced simultaneous multi-round ascending auction (ESMRA). Includes allocation for a pre-determined price.

Competition limits

Bidders could not obtain more than an aggregate of:

  • 82 MHz of spectrum below 1 GHz under spectrum licences in the major population areas
  • 92 MHz of spectrum below 1 GHz under spectrum licences in the regional areas.

The ACMA was directed to set aside 10 MHz of spectrum for Optus Mobile Pty Ltd (Optus) and TPG Telecom Limited (TPG) in the frequency ranges 895–915 MHz, and 940–960 MHz. Optus Mobile Pty Ltd took up its set-aside lots.

Allocation information

Legislative instruments:


Related information:

Technical information

Technical instruments:

Consultation updates


All questions received were published (without attribution), along with our responses.

Read the FAQs.


The 850 MHz expansion band (LTE band 26/n26) and 900 MHz band (LTE band 8/n8) are sub-1 GHz bands internationally harmonised for the deployment of wireless broadband services, including 4G and 5G.

In 2015, we published our long-term strategy for the 803–960 MHz band. We made the following goals for the reconfiguration and allocation of the 850/900 MHz band:

  • that the band be spectrum-licensed
  • that the band be configured in 5 MHz channels
  • that licensees be charged a market price (or a price informed by relevant market outcomes)
  • that licensees be enabled to mitigate risks to the continuity of consumer services
  • that a move to larger contiguous bandwidths be supported
  • that the 1 MHz ‘downshift’ of the spectrum licences in the 850 MHz original band (825–845 MHz paired with 870–890 MHz) be facilitated by allocating the 2 x 1 MHz below those spectrum licences. This removes a key regulatory barrier to the downshift.

We want spectrum licences in the 850 MHz original band to be shifted down by 1 MHz to:

  • Align the spectrum licences in the 850 MHz original band with internationally harmonised LTE bands.
  • Introduce a 1 MHz guard band between the 850 MHz original band and the 900 MHz band. The guard band between the upper 850 MHz original band spectrum licences and the lower 900 MHz spectrum licences will reduce inter-band interference. It will also increase the usability of the lower segment of the 900 MHz band.

In May 2020, the then Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts announced the government’s communications policy objectives for the 850/900 MHz band. The objectives:

  • support the deployment of 4G and 5G technologies
  • promote competitive market outcomes for the long-term benefit of consumers
  • encourage investment in infrastructure, including in regional Australia
  • support continuity of services
  • support a national public safety mobile broadband (PSMB) capability.

In October 2020, following a recommendation from the ACMA, the then Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts (the Minister) made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Re-allocation – 850/900 MHz Band) Declaration 2020. It declared spectrum in the frequency ranges 814–825 MHz, 859–870 MHz, 890–915 MHz and 935–960 MHz (the 850/900 MHz band) to be re-allocated by issuing spectrum licences Australia-wide.

The Minister withheld the frequency ranges 809–814 MHz and 854–859 MHz from re-allocation, reserving them for future PSMB deployments.

In April 2021, the ACMA consulted on draft instruments to describe the allocation procedures and products to be made available at auction. In response to stakeholders’ views, we decided to disaggregate spectrum in the 850/900 MHz band into a major population area and a regional area, forming the Australia-wide area.

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