Vodafone’s offer to purchase unsold blocks in the 700MHz spectrum that remained unsold has been rejected, with the Australian Governmenet advising they will take the remaining spectrum to auction.
In May Vodafone offered $594 million for 2x 10MHz blocks of spectrum which were left over after the the original spectrum auction back in 2013, an auction which Vodafone abstained from taking part in. That offer has now officially been rejected.
The Australian Communications department has cited ‘strong market interest’ as a reason for taking the remaining spectrum to auction again. In all, the Communications department received seven submissions relating to the sale of the unused spectrum.
Telstra, Optus and TPG all purchased spectrum in the 2013 auction which saw licenses to spectrum in both the 700MHz and 2600MHz bands sold off. That auction netted the government almost $2 billion, though a lot more blocks of spectrum were up for grabs. The auction this time around would be for 2x 15MHz blocks of spectrum in the 700MHz band.
700MHz spectrum is attractive to mobile carriers due to the excellent building penetration of signal and the potential for longer distance signals. Vodafone currently uses their re-farmed 850MHz spectrum for 4G, but was looking to add 700MHz spectrum to further improve their network.
The auction for the spectrum will be held next year by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).