You may have heard from us recently about a spectrum decision we were waiting on from the Government that had the potential to dictate the economic and social outcomes across regional Australia for a generation.

Later this year the Government will auction off 20-year licences for ‘low band’ mobile services. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had recommended the Government limit the amount of low band spectrum we could bid for in the auction, which would have left us with less than what we have today in regional areas.

We’re pleased the Government has increased the amount of low band spectrum we can bid for in regional areas. We’ve been really vocal about how important this decision is – not just for our customers, but also to ensure regional Australia can better participate in and benefit from the growing digital economy.

The decision is a win for the people, businesses and communities of regional and rural Australia, and the regional stakeholders who advocated for it. It will mean we can bid for enough spectrum to maintain our leading mobile network, although we would have liked the opportunity to bid for more so that regional Australia can get the most out of the latest technologies as they evolve during the 20 year licence period.

A recap on why this issue is so important

Spectrum is what carries the calls and data between mobile towers and your phone – the more spectrum we can access, the more data that can be carried to your devices. There are different frequencies of spectrum, with ‘low band’ being essential for carrying mobile data over the vast distances needed across regional and rural areas.

We’re absolutely committed to the people, communities and businesses in regional Australia and we’ve invested billions of dollars to extend and enhance our mobile network to the far reaches of our country. Because of this our mobile network now covers one million square kilometres more than any other telco – that’s the size of New South Wales and Victoria combined.

We note part of the reasoning for the spectrum limits was to give Optus the opportunity to acquire additional spectrum to roll out 4G and 5G services across regional Australia. This rewards Optus for its failure to invest in previous low band spectrum auctions and really means it’s time for Optus to put its money where its mouth is.