Telstra, Optus, TPG drop $650m on ultra-fast 5G spectrum at auction

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Telstra, Optus, TPG drop $650m on ultra-fast 5G spectrum at auction

Telstra emerges with the lion’s share.

Telstra, Optus, TPG Telecom, Dense Air and Pentanet have secured more than half a billion dollars of millimetre-wave spectrum in the first of two 5G spectrum actions to take place this year.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority revealed the five winning bidders on Friday, with 358 of the 360 available lots in the 26 GHZ band sold at auction for a total of $647.6 million.

Telstra secured 150 lots – the largest number of any telco – at a cost of $276.6 million, which it said represented 1000 MHz in all major capital cities and regional areas where 26GHz spectrum was sold.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said the spectrum would help “broaden and deepen” 5G connectivity for its customers, adding that mmWave testing has been underway at a number of sites for some time.

Optus won 116 lots for $226.2 million, including 800 MHz spectrum in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and regional areas and 600 MHz in Hobart and Margaret River.

The telco noted that the spectrum was “at the top spectrum band in most capital cities and regions”, including the ‘golden GHz’ segment supported by both the 28 GHz range and the 26 GHz range.

“What is truly exciting about this spectrum is the ability to really deliver on the future potential of 5G and ultra-fast speeds,” Optus managing director Lambo Kanagaratnam said.

Mobile JV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of TPG Telecom, secured 86 lots for $108.2 million, including 400 MHz in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and 600 MHz in Brisbane and other areas.

TPG said this had resulted in it tripling its total spectrum holdings, which CEO Iñaki Berroeta said would “take 5G services to the next level in terms of speeds, performance and capability”.

“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,” he added.

London-based 5G small cell player Dense Air acquired two lots for $28.7 million, while WA-based ISP Pentanet scored four lots for $8 million.

In a statement, Pentanet's managing director said the licence for 200 MHz of spectrum in the Greater Perth area would "result in significant acceleration in the deployment of Pentanet’s Terragraph".

The licences, which run for a 15-year term, will come into force later this year.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the auction represented “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,” she 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.”

A second 5G spectrum auction for low-band spectrum is expected to take place in the second half of the year, complementing auctions that have already taken place for mid-band 5G spectrum.

Updated at 2:18pm to include Pentanet statement

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