Australian mobile network operator Optus will continue to play a part in the country’s upcoming digital dividend auction, despite having last month said that it could walk away from the sale process unless the price of spectrum was lowered. The Australian Financial Review cites Optus consumer chief Kevin Russell as confirming that the operator would lodge an application to take part in the auction before the deadline later this week. However, the executive has insisted that Optus does not need the frequencies to roll out a network suitable for the coming years, with Mr Russell saying: ‘There [are] always alternative strategies to spectrum – spectrum’s not the only thing’.
One such alternative is thought to relate to the construction of new base stations, while the expansion of site-sharing agreements with rival Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) may also be an option if Optus does not see the auction process through to completion. The two companies signed a deal in May 2012 under which they would share existing sites and jointly build 500 new base stations by 2016, and the scope of that agreement could be expanded. Commenting on the possibility of such a development, Mr Russell noted: ‘There is scope to do more site-sharing than we have done to date.’