Australian Government to Auction Broadband to Small Telcos


The Australian Federal Government
announced plans to auction broadband radio communications spectrum to
encourage smaller players into the telecommunications arena.

The Government intends to auction Local Multipoint Distribution Services
(LMDS) spectrum lots on the 28GHz and 31GHz bands. It said it will sell band
spectrum at auction and because several companies have already expressed
interest in buying space.

LMDS is designed to carry data, including high-speed Internet, local-loop
telephony services, and two-way interactive television. It sits high in the
spectrum and has a wide bandwidth of 1GHz so that it can transmit large
quantities of data. At the moment LMDS does have a short range of as little
as five kilometres, however, so will be limited to central business
districts linked by antennae.

LMDS technology is still in its evolutionary phase, only recently
was sold to organisations in the USA and Canada. “LMDS has tremendous
bandwidth,” said Australian Communications Authority (ACA) spokesman
Brendan Vernon. “If it works, it will be really useful.”

To ensure the auction allows more telecommunications carriers to secure
spectrum, current major Australian telcos Telstra and Optus have been
barred from bidding in this auction.

The government expects that LMDS could compete with the fibre optic
technology used by Telstra and Optus.

The ACA predicts the auction will be held next year; it also anticipates a
second auction later in the year in which Telstra and Optus will be allowed
to bid.

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