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Broadcasters say 700MHz auction showed lack of demand

Adam Bender | May 15, 2013
Broadcasters and the mobile industry had different takeaways about the level of demand for spectrum in Australia after the government failed to sell all of the 700MHz spectrum in the Digital Dividend auction.

"The spectrum environment is a very challenging one because spectrum is fully allocated, so if someone wants more spectrum, somebody else has to got to be prepared to use less," he said.

Changes to the way media is viewed could result in less spectrum required by broadcasters, he said. "In an NBN world, for example, consumers are consuming media in an increasingly online way, which could easily see further broadcasting spectrum being freed up."

The Broadcast Australia spokeswoman said that there "are currently no plans to free up spectrum for a second Digital Dividend after the clearance of the 700MHz band."

AMTA supports an ongoing review by the Australian Communications and Media Authority into where more spectrum may come from in the future, Althaus said. The ACMA has set a goal of another 150MHz spectrum for mobile broadband by 2015 and another 150MHz by 2020.

"The world of spectrum moves at a fairly slow pace, but it's critically important that industry has reasonable levels of certainty about what the roadmap looks like for spectrum."

The 1500MHz band is one range of frequencies being investigated for potential mobile use in the future, said Althaus. But the plethora of different players in the spectrum could make freeing this spectrum a complex task for the ACMA, he said.

A secondary trading market for spectrum could also be used to reallocate spectrum for mobile broadband, said Althaus. "If someone did want to divest themselves of some spectrum, then there's a market to allow that to happen."

However, that secondary trading market is not yet very active, he said. "Spectrum is expensive and a lot of planning and investment strategising goes into how you fit new spectrum into your operation."


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