Optus, Vodafone call for 1800-MHz spectrum cap

Dylan Bushell-Embling
04 May 2015

Australia's second and third largest mobile operators are calling for the imposition of limits to the amount of 1800-MHz spectrum that can be acquired in an upcoming auction, to prevent incumbent Telstra from increasing its market dominance.

Optus and Vodafone Australia have both made submissions to a consultation by telecom regulator ACMA covering whether to impose competition limits in a proposed reallocation of regional 1800-MHz spectrum.

In its submission, Vodafone asserted that competition limits “must be set... to promote the long-term interests of end-users by promoting competition in the regional mobile services market.”

In Australia, operators have access to 80% less 1800-MHz spectrum in rural areas than in the five major metropolitan centers, Vodafone said. This has impeded mobile investment and competition in regional Australia.

Telstra’s excess concentration of spectrum holdings within this geographic area distorts incentives for competitive investment to the detriment of regional mobile consumers,” the submission reads.

Vodafone has recommended the introduction of an in-and limit and a total holdings limit on 1800-MHz spectrum.

Optus meanwhile noted that Telstra has had a “historical monopoly holding of regional 1800-MHz spectrum”, and stated that the operator “strongly supports competition limits for the upcoming 1800-MHz spectrum auction.”

The submission added that “absent such limits, there is a real risk that Telstra’s historical advantage in regional areas will be further entrenched to the detriment of end-users.”

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