Telstra and Optus have each announced the purchase at auction of 26GHz spectrum, also called mmWave, which will enable increased 5G capacity and speed in capital cities and regional areas.

Telstra purchased 1000MHz of 26 GHz spectrum for $277 million. It bought the spectrum in all major capital cities and regional areas where it was sold. It will pay for the spectrum in five equal annual instalments.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn stated that Telstra’s licences will come into effect “around the middle” of 2021. But he added that it will be possible for Telstra to use the spectrum sooner, because the ACMA is making early access licensing available.

Optus bought 800MHz of 26GHz spectrum in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra and regional areas. It also purchased 600MHz of the spectrum in Hobart and in Margaret River in Western Australia. This will cost Optus $226.2 million.

The 15-year mmWave licences Optus won at auction will come into effect “later” in 2021.

Both network providers’ announcements focussed mainly on consumer applications of mmWave 5G – including home broadband and augmented reality headsets at concerts or sport events.

Optus Networks Managing Director Lambo Kanagaratnam also touted the use of mmWave for industrial applications. “For enterprise, this spectrum could support remote controlled automation for example robotics in a warehouse or factory,” he stated.

Optus sees Singtel's "similar" spectrum holdings helping to “drive the user equipment ecosystem for this spectrum band across Singtel Group”.

TPG also purchased 26Ghz spectrum in the auction, for $108.2 million. It bought 400MHz spectrum licences in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, and 600Hz licenses in Brisbane and all other metropolitan and regional areas.

TPG's announcement stated that the spectrum would enable it to deliver 5G fixed wireless services and "super-fast" 5G mobile services. 

The Federal Government recently closed the application period for grants under the first $10 million funding round of the Australian Government 5G Innovation Initiative. The funding aims to demonstrate the commercial benefits for businesses using 5G solutions.