Telstra, Australia's largest mobile operator, has been barred from participating in an upcoming digital dividend spectrum auction over concerns from the country's regulators that it could increase the company's dominance creating an unfair playing field. Telstra already owns more than 50 percent of the available low-band spectrum in Australia and has a 52 percent share of the country's mobile connections.
Telstra was blocked from participating in the auction by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and was supported by the coalition government. It was following guidelines from the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission, according to The Australian, that Telstra should be excluded from the spectrum auction.
Other active mobile operators in Australia such as Vodafone, Optus and TPG Telecom are now left with optimistic opportunity to compete for the spectrum in the auction. Two blocks of 15MHz spectrum is up for grabs in the auction which the operators will compete for, which is expected to raise up to AUD1 billion.
Spare spectrum was leftover after a previous digital dividend sale back in 2013, after which the government announced in October a remaining 30MHz of 700MHz of spectrum available for sale. According to The Australian, the government priced the spectrum at AUS1.25 per megahertz per capita covered, which is the same as the reserve price for the 2013 auction adjusted for a shorter license term. Australian mobile operators will be able to apply for auction applications in January 2017.