The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is inviting submissions on whether competition limits should be imposed upon a proposed auction of spectrum licences.

The proposed auction, to be conducted by the Australian Media and Communications Authority, will be for licences covering segments of the 1800 MHz band in regional Australia.

The 1800 MHz band is highly sought after spectrum for 4G and mobile broadband services. The spectrum may also be used by other industries for communications, safety, and signalling systems. In metropolitan Australia, mobile network operators and state rail operators already use the spectrum. In regional areas, the spectrum is mainly used for fixed point-to-point connections to provide backhaul to meet universal service obligations. There are parts of the spectrum that are currently unused.

The Department of Communications has requested the ACCC provide advice on the potential competition limits for the proposed auction, which is to take place by the end of November 2015. In providing its advice, the ACCC has been asked to consider the current state of competition for mobile broadband services in regional Australia, the effect that competition limits may have upon competition in downstream markets, as well as any other matters that the ACCC considers relevant.

“The ACCC welcomes stakeholder views on whether competition limits should be imposed in the spectrum auction,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“Stakeholder submissions will help us to understand the need for, and implications of, placing limits on the spectrum that may be allocated. They will also inform our views on whether competition limits would promote competition in mobile broadband markets.”

The ACCC has published a letter on its website, inviting comments on several relevant issues. The letter is available in Regulated Infrastructure.

The ACCC invites submissions from interested parties until Friday 17 April 2015.