Later this year the Government will auction off 20-year licences for ‘low band’ mobile spectrum and its currently considering how much spectrum each mobile provider can buy.

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.

What’s happening

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recommended the Government limit the amount of low band spectrum we can bid for in the auction, which would leave us with less than what we have today in regional areas.

This is a major policy decision that will dictate the economic and social outcomes for the bush for a generation.

Without access to the right amount of mobile spectrum, customers in regional towns will likely experience congestion and slower mobile speeds, and a delay to the rollout of 5G. This will create a two-tier digital economy that will impact education, health and business outcomes, particularly in rural and remote areas.

We’re not asking for more spectrum than we need, and we’re not asking to limit what Optus or TPG could bid for in any way. And we’re also not asking for spectrum to be set aside for our exclusive use like our competitors have.

What it means for you

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. And in many cases we’re the only game in town when it comes to 5G.

We want to keep extending our network and bring the latest technology to regional Australia, but this will be difficult to do if we don’t have the spectrum available to us.

A report by global economic consulting company, Compass Lexecon, found limiting Telstra’s spectrum will lead to worse outcomes for regional Australia, including service degradation and potentially higher prices to fund the extra infrastructure we need to make up for the lack of sufficient spectrum.

This doesn’t have to be the case. We’re not asking for other mobile providers to be restricted in any way – we’re just seeking to maintain a proportion of low band spectrum that’s similar to what we have today.

We’re pleased the Government is currently considering alternative spectrum limits and will soon make their decision on this.

We don’t want to alarm you, but we think it’s only fair that you’re aware of any decision that may impact your connectivity. We want to support regional Australia but we need the Government’s support to do this.