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NBN Co buys Aust regional spectrum for $120m

Austar exits 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz spectrum

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NBN Co will buy regional satellite television provider Austar’s stash of 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz spectrum licences for $120m.

NBN Co will use the spectrum to deliver fixed wireless services to around 5 per cent of customers out of reach of its planned fibre network, with the remainder to be served by satellite.

The transaction includes $58m for spectrum licences and another $62 million for the assignment of Austar's debt. Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull has complained that the 2.3 GHz spectrum could have been acquired for less – at $65m – by the Optus-led Opel network that had was abandoned by the government in 2008.

“If Labor hadn’t cancelled those contracts, people in the bush would already have access to 12mbps broadband speeds today. Instead, 37 months have passed during which Labor has announced a series of ever-more grandiose plans for a National Broadband Network, with the cost to the taxpayer blowing out from $4.7bn to more than $50bn,” he said.

NBN Co commences construction of the wireless network in December. Wholesale open-access services are due to be available by mid-2012, according to Senator Stephen Conroy, minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. ®

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