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Sorry, Vodafone: Low-Cost 5G Spectrum To Stay With NBN Co

Comms Minister Mitch Fifield appears to have ruled out calls by Vodafone for him to force NBN Co to hand back prized 5G-capable spectrum, which NBN Co acquired at bargain prices in 2014.

At the time the 3.4GHz and 3.5GHz spectrum – which covers metropolitan outskirts – was reserved for NBN Co’s use at three cents per MHz per member of the population in a given area.

Time is a wonderful thing, The very same spectrum is now said to be worth 16 to 64 times that price, and Vodafone has been urging the Government to take it back and put it up for auction – with Voda presumably hoping to snare the odd bit.

Back in August last year, Vodafone asked the Government to either take back the spectrum and put it up for auction, or “direct the ACMA to ‘ratchet’ up the price of NBN Co’s spectrum to reflect the market price.”

But this week a spokesperson for Communications Minister Mitch Fifield told iTnews†that an earlier response to Vodafone on the issue – dated May 17 last year – still stood.

The spokesperson said Fifield had told Vodafone that NBN Co’s spectrum holdings in the 3.5GHz band “are an important component of infrastructure that will provide affordable broadband access to all Australian homes and businesses by 2020” – and for that reason the minister is not inclined to do as Vodafone wished.

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