ACMA announces start of multi-band spectrum auction, which should help to boost mobile services in regional areas

Australia on Tuesday began its latest multi-band spectrum auction, which includes airwaves that will likely be used for 5G mobile services.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced the launch of the auction process for frequencies in the 2 GHz, 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands, in addition to 1800-MHz airwaves left unsold after a 2015 auction.

The 1800-MHz and 2-GHz frequencies will likely be used for LTE, although the latter could potentially be used for 5G, the ACMA said. It added that the 2.3 GHz band will probably be used for wireless broadband and 3.4 GHz for TDD mobile broadband. The 3.4 GHz band is also being earmarked for 5G use in a number of global markets.

Australia also plans to carry out an auction of 3.6 GHz frequencies for 5G use at a later date, but has thus far not set a firm date for the sale.

The ACMA highlighted the potential of the current auction for improving services outside of Australia’s major cities.

"We anticipate the spectrum will be used for mobile or fixed wireless broadband services, with the majority of lots available being in regional areas," said ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin, in a statement.

"But we have also built flexibility into the technical frameworks for each band, allowing for other uses as well," she added.