Australia’s 'digital dividend' is the spectrum that was freed up for new uses by the switch from analogue to digital television.

Digital dividend is the spectrum that was freed up by the switch from analogue to digital television. This spectrum in Australia is in the frequency range 694-820 MHz. The spectrum has been optimised for 4G technology.

 Frequency Diagram

Four steps to achieve the digital dividend

It took four steps to achieve the dividend:

  1. The digital switchover: Digital television services took over completely from analogue television (December 2013)
  2. Spectrum reallocation: Regulatory and statutory processes changes enabled the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to replan the spectrum and sell licences for some of the newly available spectrum for new uses (December 2014)
  3. Auction: Licences for 90 MHz of digital dividend spectrum were auctioned in April–May 2013.
  4. Channel changes and television retune: Television broadcasting services were stacked more efficiently into the broadcasting spectrum below 694 MHz. Industry refers to this as the restack of broadcasting services.

Licences purchased at auction commenced on 1 January 2015 and are being used to provide high-speed 4G mobile broadband services.

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What happens to the unsold digital dividend spectrum?

Some of the digital dividend spectrum was not sold at the 2013 auction. In 2012, the ACMA was directed to report on the unsold spectrum. The ACMA was also directed to ensure that the spectrum’s sale price must reflect the auction reserve price of $1.36/MHz/pop.