ACMA ready to take names on 700 MHz auction

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ACMA ready to take names on 700 MHz auction

Process begins on January 3.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority will begin taking applications from bidders hoping to nab a slice of 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum from January 3, 2013.

The communications watchdog said in a blog post that it would release the applicant information package first thing in the New Year.

"The [package] sets out the spectrum products on offer and gives prospective bidders all the information they need to decide whether to participate in the auction," the ACMA said.

The package's release would coincide with the first advertisements for the digital dividend spectrum auction, and the acceptance of applications to participate.

The ACMA has already published key forms to enable bidders to get a head start on the paper work.

It also published nine documents detailing "the process and the rules" for the auction, which is to occur no later than April 30, 2013.

The ACMA appointed the manager of its major spectrum allocations section, Jane Cole, as the digital dividend auction manager.

The New Year period will thus prove a busy period for Australia's telcos. The spectrum is billed as a "waterfront" asset for telcos seeking to deploy next-generation mobile network infrastructure. But none have yet indicated whether they would bid for the spectrum at the Government's price.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last week set a higher than expected reserve price for lots of 700 MHz spectrum, causing an immediate backlash from telcos.

Optus called it "unworkable" though speculation is that it will not back out of the auction process entirely. VHA — which had barely committed to the process to begin with — reportedly advised the Government even before the reserve price announcement that it would not participate.

The ACMA has been left to set its own reserve for allotments of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band.

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