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What will Vodafone’s Australian 700MHz auction win mean for consumers?



Vodafone has successfully purchased 700Mhz network frequency from ACMA, but how will this affect its network?

Vodafone has successfully purchased 2x10Mhz blocks of spectrum in the ACMA’s auction of previously unsold 700Mhz frequencies.

The ACMA had previously sold off 700Mhz spectrum back in 2013 with Telstra picking up the maximum allowance of two 20MHz bands and Optus grabbing two 10Mhz blocks. At the time, Vodafone declined to bid, but in recent years it has shown more interest in adding 700Mhz capabilities to its network.

That much spectrum isn’t cheap, if you were curious. It’s charged per head of population, and while Vodafone was able to get the $1.25 per head price it wanted, the overall cost was still a healthy $285,907,000. Mind you, that’s cheap compared to the $1,260,161,000 paid by TPG for 2x10Mhz 700Mhz blocks at the same auction.

The spectrum in question was freed up for sale after the shutdown of the older analogue TV signal across the nation.

What difference will this make to my phone usage?

The lack of 700Mhz capability was something of a chink in Vodafone’s overall 4G offerings, and by acquiring it, the company brings itself back into the 700Mhz discussion. The licences Vodafone has acquired doesn’t come into effect until 1 April 2018, so it will be some time before you see the difference across Vodafone’s networks, whether you’re a direct customer or using one of Vodafone’s MVNO partners, including Kogan Mobile and TPG.

Lower frequency holdings are attractive to telcos because they can typically cover greater distances, which means that Vodafone could start covering wider regional areas. They're also better at in-building penetration, so if you're more of a metropolitan phone user, you could see increased phone reception and data rates once Vodafone gets access to lower frequency spectrum holdings.

Newer smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S8 support 700Mhz 4G LTE at the correct Australian frequencies, and as such if you’re a user of such phones you could well see a marked improvement in your overall network coverage once Vodafone incorporates 700Mhz frequencies into its network mix.

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