ACCC considers limiting sales of 1800 MHz spectrum

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ACCC considers limiting sales of 1800 MHz spectrum

Asks for submissions on potential competition issues.

Australia's competition watchdog is considering whether or not to limit the amount of 1800 MHz spectrum that bidders can snare in an upcoming auction.

Communications authority ACMA is planning to hold an auction for licences covering parts of the 1800 MHz band in regional Australia this November.

The spectrum release is highly sought-after by 4G mobile network operators, with all three of Australia's mobile carriers have existing 4G deployments in the band.

The Department of Communications has directed Australia's competition watchdog, the ACCC, to advise on whether there should be any competition limits in the auction.

The ACCC has been asked to study the potential effects limits would have on competition in downstream markets, and to take into account the current state of competition for regional mobile broadband services.

It has taken the issue to the public, and is calling for submissions until April 17.

"Competition limits have been imposed on spectrum auctions in the past, including the recent digital dividend auction. The principal reason for introducing competition limits is to prevent monopolisation of the spectrum," the ACCC said.

"The 1800 MHz band is highly sought after spectrum for 4G and mobile broadband services. The spectrum may also be used by other industries for communications, safety, and signalling systems.

"In metropolitan Australia, mobile network operators and state rail operators already use the spectrum. In regional areas, the spectrum is mainly used for fixed point-to-point connections to provide backhaul to meet universal service obligations. There are parts of the spectrum that are currently unused."

The ACCC said it expected the spectrum acquired in the upcoming auction would be mainly used for deploying LTE/4G technology for mobile broadband services.

It may also be used for smart networks such as automated transport and mining systems, or smart energy grids.

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