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Budde Sees ‘Fabulous Plot’ As 5G Auction Raises $853 Million

The ACMA’s auction of 5G spectrum – in the 3.6GHz band – has raised $853 million from the three mobile carriers and TPG, plus Airspan Networks’ subsidiary Dense Air, which is planning a network on which it will sell capacity to other mobile operators.

Telstra acquired 143 lots for $386m; a TPG/VHA joint venture acquired 131 lots for $263.3m; Optus acquired 47 lots for $185.1m; and Dense Air 29 lots for $18.5m. The licences will commence on March 30, 2020, and expire on December 13, 2030.

Telstra said the spectrum it acquired, combined with existing assets, had given it 60MHz of contiguous 5G spectrum in all major capital cities and 50-80MHz in regional areas.

Vodafone said its JV with TPG  – Mobile JV – had acquired 60GHz of spectrum in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra, giving it a strong 5G spectrum capability in these cities.

Dense Air is a subsidiary of US-based small-cell manufacturer Airspan Networks. According to its Web site, Dense Air’s technology is targeted only at locations – indoor and outdoor – where mobile service is poor or congested. – Stuart Corner

Telecoms market commentator Paul Budde notes: “While [$853million] is a lot of money, the total amount is lower [than expected] because of limited competition, partly because of the restrictions on Optus and partly because of the combination of Voda and TPG. 

“It could have well been above $1 billion if there had been more competition.

“The more I think about 5G, the more I think it is a fabulous plot by the vendors to get operators to buy a whole new set of gear worth billions of dollars to them, while there is little the operators can do to increase their revenues. Most Australian people are happy with 4G.”

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