Telstra has successfully secured between 30-80 MHz nationwide in the 3.6GHz spectrum auction held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, investing A$386 million to support its national 5G rollout.
Combined with existing holdings, Telstra now has 60 MHz of contiguous 5G spectrum in all major capital cities and between 50-80 MHz of contiguous 5G spectrum in all regional areas.
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said securing the spectrum meant Telstra would continue to play the leading role in bringing 5G capabilities and super-fast connections to Australians in both cities and regional areas.
“This is an extremely significant moment for Telstra and as we set out last week at our Investor Day, 5G will bring enormous opportunities for growth. This is also a significant investment in the nation’s future connectivity, including large holding of regional spectrum, demonstrating our continued commitment to bring the latest technology to in regional areas,” Mr Penn said.
“Telstra is leading the way in working with suppliers and international standard bodies to develop the 5G ecosystem. This will enable us to provide the data, connectivity, low latency and speed necessary to enable new products and services that will radically alter the way we do business, consume content and connect with each other.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of the auction, both in terms of the spectrum we have secured and the overall way the auction was conducted,” Mr Penn said. Telstra has already achieved a number of significant milestones in preparation for 5G. In February it launched Telstra’s 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast, which has since been home to several world and Australian firsts.
Optus, meanwhile, acquired new regional licences for its customers in the 3.6 GHz spectrum band. The Singtel-owned firm snapped up 47 regional lots for a total amount of A$185.1 million across North and Central Queensland, South East Queensland/Northern NSW, regional Victoria and South Australia, Tasmania and Southern/Western NSW.
Optus said the new regional spectrum licences added to its existing significant holdings of metropolitan 3.4 GHz spectrum and would enable it to offer 5G services to customers across Australia. “Given Optus’ extensive holdings of spectrum in the 5G band in metropolitan areas Optus [was] excluded from the metropolitan spectrum auction due to bid limits imposed by the Federal Government,” it said.
“The additional spectrum positions Optus strongly to deliver 5G services in cities, regions and holiday locations. We are committed to commercially launching Fixed Wireless Access services early in 2019 and we can now extend these services to Regional Australia,” said Optus Networks MD Dennis Wong.
“Optus continues to invest in our network where it matters most to people, where they live, work and play. Whether you live in the cities, regional centres or smaller remote towns, we are expanding our premium national mobile network and improving customer experience,” he added.
Vodafone Hutchison Australia said the VHA-TPG Telecom spectrum joint venture company, Mobile JV “acquired substantial spectrum holdings in all available areas in the 3.6GHz band auction for AU$263 million.”
VHA CEO Iñaki Berroeta said spectrum investment would deliver one of the key pieces in the operator’s 5G preparations. “We have been preparing for the evolution to 5G for several years, and the acquisition of spectrum licences in metropolitan, outer metropolitan and regional areas brings 5G another step closer to reality,” he said.
“The 60MHz holdings the JV has secured in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra give us a strong 5G spectrum capability in each of these major cities. While we are pleased to have secured spectrum licences in every available area, robust competition for artificially limited supply saw the companies participating in the auction pay some of the highest per MHz per pop prices for 5G spectrum in the world so far, with an average price of 29c/MHz/pop. It’s clear there is high demand for 5G spectrum, and more suitable spectrum needs to be made available by government.”
Berroeta said while the proposed merger between VHA and TPG is still pending regulatory approval, VHA and TPG were able to participate in the auction through a joint venture as permitted by the auction rules.
“While VHA has now secured access to 5G spectrum, it is still important that we complete the merger with TPG to create a scale business with a significantly increased ability to invest in networks, new technologies and competitive plans and products for Australian customers,” he said. “We are in the final stages of virtualising VHA’s core network. We have completed our dark fibre transmission rollout and are finalising our detailed infrastructure planning, while leveraging the expertise of our global shareholders,” saud Berroeta.
“Launching a new generation mobile network is a multi-layered evolutionary process which involves much more than putting some new antennas on poles, and we are progressing all elements of our 5G plans,” he added.