Hutchison, One.Tel Big Spenders On Mobile In Australia 03/15/00

Hutchison, One.Tel Big Spenders On Mobile In Australia 03/15/00 – Company Business and Marketing

Adam Creed

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA, 2000 MAR 15 (NB) — Mobile carriers Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Ltd and One.Tel Ltd [AUS:ONE] now have to pay well over A$1 billion (US$612.10 million) together to the Australian Government as the hammer fell on the nation’s largest ever commercial auction of telecom radiofrequencies.

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) has completed its auction of frequencies in the 1.8 gigahertz (GHz) band – a sell-off of public airwaves that has generated the government a windfall of more than A$1.32 billion ($812.79 million).

The successful applicants were Hutchison, One.Tel, Telstra Corp [AUS:TLS][NYSE:TLS] and Vodafone Australia. These carriers are expected to use the frequencies to provide mobile telephone services in Australia.

Hutchison and One.Tel, two of the country’s newer mobile network operators, will pay A$670.85 million ($410.90 million) and A$523.13 million ($320.42 million) respectively for their licenses, which cover the metropolitan areas of Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Telstra and Vodafone, which already operate national mobile networks, have paid A$78.62 million ($48.15 million) and A$55.24 million ($33.83 million) for their licenses.

ACA Chairman Tony Shaw was very pleased with the results as the auction closed on Wednesday: “The outcome sees several carriers with significantly increased spectrum holdings, which offers real potential for new services. That’s a great outcome.”

Top spender Hutchison, part of Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa conglomerate, said it would use its licenses to make a push into the wirefree data market. The company plans to build a high speed wireless data network in Australia, possibly based on GPRS (General Packet Radio Service).

“While we are not yet wedded to any particular technology,” said Barry Roberts-Thomson, Hutchison’s managing director, “GRPS with EDGE (Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution), which will deliver third generation speeds of 384 kilobits per second (Kbps), is indicative of the speed and functionality we will require the successful vendor to deliver. At 384 Kbps, our new network will operate up to 27 times faster than existing mobile networks in Australia.”

The new 1.8 GHz network will be aimed mainly at business users, complementing its existing Orange mobile voice telephony service in Australia and the CDMA network its is building to offer its own local mobile telephony services to residential users in and around Sydney and Melbourne. Each network will serve a distinct market with different voice or data needs.

“Having two networks will enable us to remain focused on these separate needs and manage costs and functionality accordingly,” Roberts-Thomson said.

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