Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has revealed the government's approach to reissuing or renewing 15-year-old wireless spectrum licences, which are set to expire between 2013 and 2017.
"Spectrum licence renewal will be offered to those telecommunications incumbents who are already using their spectrum licences to provide services to significant numbers of Australian consumers, or who have in place networks capable of providing services to significant numbers of consumers, provided they also meet the public interest criteria," said Conroy. The spectrum is mainly used for 2G and 3G phone and wireless services.
This approach would avoid the need to auction the spectrum, although Conroy noted this remained an option if negotiations with carriers did not end up satisfying his public interest criteria.
The Australian Government will seek a fee that reflects the scarcity and value of this important resource. The [Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy] will soon be approaching certain stakeholders to commence discussions on the possible renewal of their spectrum licences.
The carriers that will be approached are Telstra, Optus, VHA and vividwireless. The services are mainly used to provide 2G and 3G mobile services.