Telcos mum on spectrum renewal

Telcos and the government will not reveal submissions on spectrum-licence renewals, citing commercial confidentiality.

Telcos and the government will not reveal submissions on spectrum-licence renewals, citing commercial confidentiality.

Just before Christmas last year, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced a round of public consultation on the renewal of 15-year spectrum licences in the 800MHz and 1800MHz spectrum bands, which are due to expire in 2013. The government is expected to gain up to $4 billion from Telstra, Vodafone and Optus from upcoming spectrum auctions and licence renewals.

Submissions on the discussion paper were due yesterday. Despite requests from ZDNet Australia for the submissions made by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, the telcos would not release the submissions publicly.

Vodafone said "constructive discussions with the government continue", while Telstra said that only the government has been issued with a copy of its submission.

Optus would not reveal its submission, either; however, general manager for regulatory compliance Gary Smith said that Optus hopes that the renewals will be finalised as soon as possible.

"Optus believes the finalisation of these instruments in their draft form as early as practical will provide important commercial certainty," he said in a statement. "In addition, Optus has stated that concluding the renewal process is important, as mobile carriers are in the process of making defining decisions about significant investments in new network technology and the forthcoming digital dividend auction."

Although submissions to inquiries are often published on government websites, in this instance the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy told ZDNet Australia that it is unlikely for the submissions to be made public.

"The majority of submissions are expected to be commercial in nature, and so, in the ordinary course of affairs, would not be released," the department said.

The Herald Sun this morning quoted one industry insider who claimed that Telstra told the government that the prices for the spectrum are too high, and that the government is just seeking to price the spectrum at a high level without triggering another auction of the spectrum. Telstra did not confirm these statements to ZDNet Australia.


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