Australian 3G auction closes at $580 million

Australia’s 3G (third-generation) mobile spectrum auction closed Thursday with the six bidders agreeing to pay a total of A$1.17 billion (US$580 million) for 48 of the 58 lots on offer, the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) said in a statement. The figure falls well below the A$2.6 billion the government originally estimated it would gain from the auction.

Optus Mobile Pty. Ltd. and Vodafone Pacific Pty. Ltd. bought the two national licenses on offer. Former monopoly carrier Telstra Corp. Ltd. achieved nationwide coverage by buying a combination of licenses for state capital cities and for rural areas.

Qualcomm Inc.-linked 3G Investments Pty. Ltd. bought a capital cities license giving it coverage of the country’s five biggest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth – plus the national capital Canberra, Darwin and Hobart. CKW Wireless Pty. Ltd. bought limited spectrum in each of these markets.

Hutchison Telecommunications Australia Ltd. bought lots covering the five biggest cities.

Australia has more than nine million GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) mobile phone users, about half of the country’s population. Telstra is the market leader with a share estimated at 48 per cent, followed by Optus with 33 per cent and Vodafone with 19 per cent.

The next big 3G-spectrum auction in Asia will take place next month in Singapore. Four licenses are on offer in a market of around four million residents, with a mobile phone penetration rate of 63.1 per cent, according to government figures. The reserve price has been set at S$100 million (US$56 million) per license.

Further information on the Australian auction is available at a special Web site set up by ACA at

ACA, in Melbourne, can be contacted at