- Several operators led by NBN Co raised that they were keen on the 850/900MHz spectrum.
- NBN Co’s potential interest in the 850/900MHz spectrum allocation won’t likely raise competition issues.
- In December last year, ACMA issued NBN Co with four scientific licenses that allow the company to use the 850MHz band.
Because of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s move to offer separate regional and metro products in the 850/900MHz auction later this year, operators have a greater opportunity to obtain a regional spectrum.
ACMA released its draft allocation instruments consultation last week. In it, they indicated that the auction will be divided into three products which include the 850MHz expansion band metropolitan areas, the 850MHz expansion band regional areas, and the 900MHz band national areas. In doing so, the process will most likely be more complicated but nevertheless, this configuration will be more aligned with the current demand in the spectrum.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission was also requested to provide advice to the communications minister. In parallel to this, several operators led by NBN Co raised that they were keen on the 850/900MHz spectrum. This will allow them to provide wholesale voice and broadband services, as well as fixed wireless in regional and rural or remote areas.
According to the ACCC, NBN Co’s potential interest in the 850/900MHz spectrum allocation won’t likely raise competition issues. The reason behind this is that the potential impact of the 850/900MHz spectrum on the ability of the MNOs’ to compete in the fixed broadband market was likely to be incremental. This can be attributed to the fact that they likely also need a mid-band spectrum to provide sufficient capacity for 5G fixed wireless users.
In December last year, ACMA issued NBN Co with four scientific licenses that allow the company to use the 850MHz band. Because of this, Pivotel and Connected Farms raised their interest in spectrum allocation in areas outside the mobile coverage areas of the national MNOs. Thereby, the regulator deemed that these requests were geared more towards current licensing framework issues.
According to a statement released by ACMA, “We consider that dividing the spectrum into one metropolitan area and one regional area will enable those bidders with regionally-focused demand to participate, while those seeking nationwide licences can do so by bidding across metropolitan and regional lots”.
However, ACMA also conceded that the risk of a bidder not being able to construct a national service if they missed particular geography, was present. To inhibit this risk, ACMA has made the metro lots larger by moving them into less populated areas. “While bidders may be required to formulate valuations and bidding strategies for a larger number of products, we consider that this lot configuration is most closely aligned with spectrum demand,” the regulator added.