By Julian Bajkowski
Telstra, Optus Mobile and TPG internet have emerged as the winners in the federal government’s lucrative auction of former analogue television spectrum after the carriers plumped almost $2 billion to secure their slice of recycled airwaves.
Telstra paid by far the largest amount, shelling out $1.3 billion for two lots of 10 MHz (20 MHz in total) in the 700 MHz band and another two lots of 40 MHz (80 MHz in total) in the 2.5 GHz band.
Optus has secured $650 million in spectrum allocation for around half of what Telstra bought, with TPG Internet paying $13.5 million for a total of 20 MHz in the 2.5 GHz band.
The spectrum auction has been one of the most hotly contested sell-offs of government assets as Communications Minister Stephen Conroy seeks to maximise revenue for Canberra on the back of the explosion in mobile devices like internet enabled smartphones and other data-driven gadgets that need big bandwidth to operate effectively.
Former government monopoly Telstra has spent billions in recent years upgrading its mobile network across Australia in a battle to build competitive advantage and compensate for the rapid loss of customers from its decaying copper network – that the Labor government is trying to replace with the fibre-based National Broadband Network.
The $2 billion spectrum sale result comes as Treasurer Wayne Swan prepares to deliver a Budget that has been savaged by badly depleted tax receipts and a mining tax that has delivered far less money than anticipated.
“By making spectrum previously required for analogue television transmissions available to meet rising demand for high-speed wireless broadband, the digital dividend auction will well position the Australian telecommunications industry to deliver fast, ubiquitous and symmetrical mobile broadband connectivity to consumers and industry,” ACMA’s Chairman, Chris Chapman said.
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