Optus has put up its hand to participate in the future auction of a 126 MHz block of spectrum being eyed by telcos to support next-generation wireless networks.
The Government today announced its decision to release a contiguous block of spectrum between 694 and 820 MHz inclusive that will be freed up by the analogue to digital television switchover.
The UHF spectrum block, which has become known as the ‘digital dividend', is expected to be available at the end of 2013.
The release decision follows an extensive consultation process.
Next-generation long term evolution (LTE) technology will require spectrum allocation in the 2.5 GHz and/or 700 MHz bands.
Both Optus and Telstra are running LTE trials in Australia. Telstra last week released test results on Nokia-Siemens Network kit; it is still testing equipment from Ericsson and Huawei.
Optus welcomed the release of digital dividend spectrum but urged the Government "to finalise its position on the 2.5 GHz band so that there is a comprehensive spectrum roadmap to allow the mobile industry to plan for future wireless services."
The telco's products and delivery director Henry Calvert described the digital dividend spectrum release as a "critical" and "positive" step that would give the industry some certainty in their planning for future mobile services.
"We look forward to the details of the auction process being finalised and critically, the timing of the completion of restack which will dictate when the spectrum can be used," Calvert said.
"Optus intends to be a key participant in the digital dividend auction process."
Kursten Leins, strategic marketing general manager at Ericsson Australia and New Zealand, believed the spectrum release provided an "unprecedented opportunity to allocate ‘waterfront' spectrum to mobile broadband applications."
"The certainty of spectrum availability is critical for Australian operators to make investment plans for LTE deployment in this country, and also to determine how to most efficiently grow existing mobile broadband infrastructure and capacity to meet forecast demand," Leins said.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the spectrum auction would facilitate the availability of wireless services that "enhance and support the services that will be enabled by the Government's investment in the National Broadband Network."
Telstra's heads of agreement with NBN Co announced on Sunday means it will no longer be excluded from future LTE spectrum auctions.
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