Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has set limits to the amount of 5G spectrum that each operator will be able hold in the 3.4Gz – 3.7GHz band.

The new limits of 60MHz in metropolitan areas and 80MHz in regional areas come ahead of an auction of 125MHz of 5G spectrum in the 3.6GHz band, to be held later this year. This will severely limit the ability of Optus and NBN Co to participate, as they already hold significant spectrum in these bands.

It will also handicap newcomer TPG, which needs spectrum for the planned launch of its mobile services.

Fifield said the limits would allow for a competitive auction process and prevent any one bidder from acquiring enough spectrum to preclude other telcos from rolling out 5G networks.

He said the limits had been set following careful consideration of advice from the ACCC, which had consulted with relevant parties.

Said Fifield: “These auction limits promote competition in the telecommunications industry, while ensuring this scarce spectrum is put to its highest-value use. The 3.6GHz band is recognised internationally as a key band for telcos to roll out new 5G networks.”