Telstra, Optus, TPG Telecom, Pentanet and UK-based Dense Air have acquired parts of the high-band 5G spectrum.
The telcos won spectrum for the 26 GHz band through an auction held by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). This is the second 5G spectrum auction after the 3.6 GHz band spectrum auction in late 2018.
Telstra shelled out the most money with $276.6 million for 150 lots, followed by Optus, which spent $226 million for 116 lots. TPG Telecom, though the pre-merger joint venture of TPG and Vodafone called Mobile JV, spent $108 million for 86 lots.
UK-headquartered Dense Air, which also acquired spectrum in 2018, won 2 lots for $28.7 million, while Perth-based NBN reseller and fixed wireless provider Pentanet won 4 lots for $7.9 million.
“This outcome represents another significant milestone for 5G in Australia. The successful allocation of this spectrum will support high-speed communications services in metropolitan cities and major regional centres throughout Australia,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.
“This auction is one among a suite of licensing approaches that the ACMA has introduced in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands to encourage a wide range of innovative communications uses.”
The licences the telcos won at the auction will come into force “later this year” for a 15-year term ending in 2036.
The full results of the auction can be found on ACMA’s website.
The winning telcos released statements on the spectrum they have acquired.
TPG Telecom chief executive Iñaki Berroeta said the spectrum holdings would deliver excellent customer experience, and the auction result was a good outcome for shareholders.
“Millimetre wave spectrum is one of the final pieces of our 5G network and will take 5G services to the next level in terms of speeds, performance and capability,” Berroeta said.
“The spectrum will enable us to deliver 5G fixed wireless services as a compelling NBN alternative, and it will also benefit mobile services in high foot-traffic areas such as CBDs.
“With our 5G network now available in around 450 suburbs in metro areas and 5G fixed wireless services coming soon, millimetre wave will enable us to supercharge our 5G services for customers at home and on the go.”
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said in the company’s own statement that the new mmWave spectrum would “dramatically increase” capacity and speeds for Telstra customers, “building on the already superior 5G experience Telstra provides across the country”.
“High speed connectivity is critical to Australia’s future prosperity and our aspirations to be a world leading digital economy. It has become central to all of our lives – the way we live, work, keep ourselves entertained and stay connected, and more and more 5G will be at the heart of that,” Penn said.
“Telstra is already leading the way in 5G, and this investment of $277 million in highly sought-after spectrum will help us broaden and deepen our 5G connectivity for more Australians across the country.”
Optus Networks managing director Lambo Kanagaratnam said, “We understand how important our role is in connecting people. What is truly exciting about this spectrum is the ability to really deliver on the future potential of 5G and ultra-fast speeds.”
“In short, we are armed with the ability to build and expand our 5G network and deliver on the future of 5G in the home, office or on-the-go.”
Pentanet managing director Stephen Cornish said the acquisition of 5G spectrum will result in significant acceleration in the deployment of Pentanet’s Terragraph, and network coverage in greater Perth.
"Having access to our own 5G licensed spectrum elevates us to a new height as a telecommunications carrier. We went into the auction unsure if we would be able to compete with the larger players, but our team was able to strategically secure a meaningful allocation at a price point that made sense for our use-case." Cornish said.
"We now have exclusive access to the 5G spectrum for at least 15 years so this is truly a once in a generation opportunity that we have been able to secure. It provides us with a tremendous opportunity to accelerate and optimise our network deployment, particularly deploying our Terragraph network technology at a far more rapid scale."