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Allocation limits for Australia’s next 5G spectrum auction

Limits will apply to the amount of low-band spectrum that mobile network operators can acquire at the 850/900 MHz band auction.

Limits will apply to the amount of low-band spectrum that mobile network operators can acquire at the 850/900 MHz band auction.

The Government is putting settings in place to support Australia's next 5G spectrum auction, scheduled to occur in late 2021.

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, this week announced that allocation limits will apply to the amount of low-band spectrum that mobile network operators can acquire at the auction.

Bidders will be limited to holding no more than 82  MHz of licensed sub-1 GHz spectrum in the most populous areas of Australia. This limit is consistent with recommendations from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. To encourage investment in the more sparsely populated regional area, a slightly higher limit of 92 MHz of sub-1 GHz spectrum has been set.

The limits take into account carriers' existing holdings in similar bands below 1 GHz and align with the Australian Government's communications policy objectives.

850/900 MHz low-band spectrum will support the rollout of competitive 5G services by complementing carriers' existing spectrum holdings in higher frequency bands.

Minister Fletcher's direction to ACMA also requires it to 'set-aside' spectrum in the 900 MHz band for Optus and TPG Telecom. This will guarantee these operators the opportunity to acquire 10 MHz of 900 MHz band spectrum at the auction to support continuity of services.

The Minister's decision took into consideration the ACCC's advice, ACMA's in-principle decisions on geographic lot configuration and submissions to the Department's public consultation on an exposure draft of the direction.

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