TPG and Vodafone snap up last 700MHz spectrum

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TPG and Vodafone snap up last 700MHz spectrum

Treasury pockets $1.5 billion.

TPG and Vodafone have snapped up management rights for the 30 MHz worth of radio frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band that was left unsold in 2013 auctions.

TPG paid just over $1.26 billion, or $2.75 per MHz and population for two 10MHz blocks of "digital dividend" 700 MHz spectrum, freed up after the shutdown of analogue TV broadcasting.

The telco also has two 10MHz-wide blocks of 2.5 GHz spectrum that it acquired in the 2013 auction for $13.5 million.

Meanwhile, Vodafone acquired two five MHz bands of 700 MHz spectrum in Monday's auction, paying the reserve price of just under $286 million the government had set through the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

ACMA also agreed to renew Vodafone's license for its 2100 MHz spectrum that includes two 25 MHz bands in Sydney and Melbourne, for $544 million.

Incumbent Telstra already holds the maximum permitted amount of digital dividend spectrum with two 20 MHz bands of 700MHz spectrum, and was banned by communications minister Mitch Fifield in December last year from bidding for more. 

Rival telco Optus has two 10MHz blocks of 700MHz, which it succesfully bid for in 2013.

ACMA said the auction exceeded the reserve price of $857 million set for the unsold spectrum, with revenue of $1.5 billion landing in the government's coffers.

TPG entered a trading halt on the ASX after the announcement, pending an expected capital raising to fund its purchase.

Both Vodafone and TPG can start using the spectrum from April 1 next year, with the licenses expiring on December 31 2029, a date aligned with the government's 2013 auction.

The spectrum is expected to be put to use for 4G LTE mobile and fixed wireless data networks, potentially using technology enhancements such as carrier aggregation, multiple aerials and denser signal modulation for increased transmission capacity.

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