In Australia's latest spectrum auction, four operators bid about A$853 million ($616.2 million) for the 56GHz band 5G spectrum.
All 350 batches of 3.5 GHz spectrum have been sold. Telstra, Australia's largest operator, has received a maximum of 143, with a total bid of $386.1 million. Optus, its competitor, will pay $1850.7 million for 47 batches of 3.6-GHz spectrum, while Vodafone Australia's joint venture with TPG network focused on fixed networks won 131 with $263.28 million.
The last bidder is Dense Air Australia, the UK operator, which has revealed that it will use the spectrum to provide network-neutral 5G-intensive services in six major Australian cities and support multiple operators with a physical 5G cell. Dense Air plans to provide intensive (capacity) expansion for businesses and residential consumers, providing comprehensive management services for mobile and fixed network operators through large-scale deployment of small cells.
The auction covers 14 regions, with only Vodafone Australia's joint ventures capturing the spectrum of all 14 regions. Telecom Australia has the broadest coverage (13 regions) after it.
Telecom Australia is expected to start providing 5G services in the mid-frequency band in early 2019 and complete the full deployment of capital cities, regional centers and high-demand areas by June 2020. Optus is committed to the commercial release of fixed wireless access services in early 2019, and plans to expand these services to all parts of Australia by adding new spectrum.
The operator has opened 130 sites supporting 5G in Australia and is expected to build 200 sites by the end of 2018.