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1800 MHz band auction strong result reveals high demand for regional spectrum

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has announced the outcome of the 1800 MHz band spectrum auction, which concluded yesterday (4 February 2016).

Optus, Telstra, TPG and Vodafone all secured spectrum in the auction, resulting in total revenues (including withdrawal penalties) of approximately $543.5 million.

Totals for each successful bidder are as follows:

Bidder Total price

Optus Mobile

$196 million


$191 million

TPG Internet

$88 million


$68 million

A table detailing who secured which spectrum lots where is available here.

The auction, which commenced on 30 November last year, ran over 179 rounds, enabling bidders to identify and place bids on spectrum within the band in those geographical areas they valued most. A table detailing the highest final bid for each lot and the successful bidder is available here.

‘The 1800 MHz band spectrum auction process ran very efficiently and the simultaneous multi-round ascending (SMRA) auction format proved highly effective in testing the market value of the spectrum and allocating it to those parties that valued it most,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

‘There was very strong competition among all bidders, with the auction running over 29 working days between November 2015 and February 2016. Strong bidding resulted in the majority of lots on offer being sold for an amount that exceeded our expectations.

‘Due to the high level of international harmonisation of this band for mobile broadband services, industry—and ultimately citizens and consumers—will benefit from the flow-on economic and social effects of this allocation process,’ Mr Chapman said.

‘1800 MHz spectrum is already used extensively in Australia’s major cities, mainly to provide 4G telecommunications. With previously unallocated 1800 MHz spectrum in regional areas now in the hands of mobile broadband service providers, the auction should enable improvements to the availability and performance of 4G telecommunications services right across regional Australia.’

For more information see Backgrounder below or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or

Media release 4/2016 - 5 February

Backgrounder to the 1800 MHz band auction

On 30 November 2015, the ACMA commenced the 1800 MHz band auction. The auction was held to reallocate spectrum in the following frequency ranges:

Regional 1800 MHz spectrum:

  • 1725–1785 MHz and 1820–1880 MHz in regional Australia.

Residual 1800 MHz spectrum:

  • 1770–1775 MHz and 1865–1870 MHz in Adelaide.
  • 1710–1712.5 MHz and 1805–1807.5 MHz in regional South Australia.
  • 1710–1712.5 MHz and 1805–1807.5 MHz in Cairns/Townsville.

In the Regional 1800 MHz spectrum, lots were offered in 12 separate geographic regions. In each region, 12 separate 10 MHz lots were available in a paired configuration. Each lot had 5 MHz in the lower part of the band (1725–1785 MHz) and 5 MHz in the upper part of the band (1820–1880 MHz).

The residual 1800 MHz spectrum was configured as follows:

  • one 5 MHz lot in North Queensland (Cairns/Townsville), in a paired configuration, with 2.5 MHz in each of the lower and upper parts of the band
  • one 5 MHz lot in regional South Australia in a paired configuration, with 2.5 MHz in each of the lower and upper parts of the band
  • one 10 MHz lot in Adelaide in a paired configuration, with 5 MHz in each of the lower and upper parts of the band.

Bidders in the auction were able to bid on preferred spectrum lots having regard to relevant allocation limits set for the auction. On 26 May 2015, the then Minister for Communications made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Limits – Regional 1800 MHz Band) Direction 2015 imposing an allocation limits of 25 MHz of paired spectrum in each category 1 lot in each region.

Key dates

The key dates for the auction process were:

11 September 2015 – the auction was advertised, applications opened and reserve prices were announced

1 October 2015 – application deadline

9 November 2015 – eligibility deadline

17-20 November 2015 – mock auctions were conducted

30 November 2015 – auction commenced

4 February 2016 – auction ended.

Licence type

Spectrum lots won at auction would be authorised for use by successful bidders as spectrum licences issued under section 62 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992.

Spectrum licences authorise a licensee to operate radiocommunications devices for a fixed period, within a particular frequency range, within a particular geographic area. Spectrum licensing offers a technology-flexible, market-oriented approach to managing the radiofrequency spectrum.

Spectrum licensees must comply with a series of licence conditions and a technical framework, which was developed for the 1800 MHz band by the ACMA (in consultation with industry).
1800 MHz band spectrum licences for regional Australia will commence on 30 May 2017, and will expire on 17 June 2028.

Spectrum licences for the residual 1800 MHz lots will commence as soon as practicable after the auction following the payment of the relevant spectrum access charges and associated ACMA administrative processes. They will also expire on 17 June 2028.

Auction format

The ACMA conducted the auction using the simultaneous multi-round ascending (SMRA) auction format.

Auction software provider

Following a tender process, the ACMA engaged Power Auctions to provide the online auction system.

Unallocated Spectrum

Any of the spectrum lots that were left unallocated may be later offered for allocation by a procedure and at a time to be determined by the ACMA. No consideration has presently been given to any future allocation of this unallocated spectrum.

Last updated: 05 February 2016

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