VHA to sit at digital dividend auction table

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VHA to sit at digital dividend auction table
VHA CEO Bill Morrow.

But doesn't need the spectrum for its 4G plans.

Vodafone Hutchison Australia does not need expensive digital dividend spectrum for its mobile network, but won't sit outside the spectrum auction process entirely,  according to CEO Bill Morrow.

Speaking to the ABC's Inside Business program, Morrow fleshed out VHA's position on the impending digital dividend auctions from the one he presented at the carrier's half-yearly results.

At the results presentation in July, Morrow had reserved a decision on whether VHA would compete for a slice of the 'waterfront' 700 MHz spectrum asset, noting a decision would be made "within the next few months as to whether we will participate" in the spectrum auctions.

Morrow told Inside Business that VHA will "be at the [auction] table to see what the prices are and how it works."

But he made it clear that VHA wouldn't be coming into spectrum auctions with a large pot of money, and that 700 MHz is not his first choice to underpin a Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.

"We have multiple spectrum bands available to us," he said.

"In fact, 1800 MHz is the one that I'm most excited about. We have 30 MHz of spectrum and that is perfect for LTE as we go forward into the 4G bands.

"It's available to us right now, we don't really have any traffic on it, and its something that we can take advantage of.

"If I look at that, and then look at a high cost I may have to pay for the new spectrum auction in front of us, the economics are hard to justify spending any large amount of money on [new] spectrum."

When quizzed whether VHA needed digital dividend spectrum to fulfil its network plans, Morrow said, "we do not need that spectrum."

The move could leave Telstra and Optus as the main two contenders for the dividend spectrum on offer.

Morrow also used his appearance on the show to take a swipe at ongoing NBN debate around fibre rollout.

"You can argue the nuances of whether its to the home or to the node - those things aren't important," he said.

"It's getting that [fibre] in [that's] going to help Australia overall. I think either [FTTN or FTTP will] still be good."

He raised a "minor" regulatory wishlist that included helping "challenger mobile brands" gain access to backhaul.

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