Australia is to launch the world's first 'city-by-city' auctioning of third-generation (3G) mobile-phone spectrum, according to an official at the Australian Communications Authority. John Grant, executive manager of the spectrum marketing group, said that while other countries had auctioned 3G spectrum on a nationwide basis, Australia's move was aimed at adding operational flexibility to operators. 'We are selling building blocks to the operators,' Mr Grant said. 'We are open for every possible business case.' Operators wanting to provide services in regions to which they do not have operating rights could enter into 'roaming arrangements' with other operators which had won licences in those areas, he said. Third-generation mobile technology enables faster data transmission compared with technology deployed in the mass market, which would greatly enhance proliferation of multimedia applications and electronic commerce via mobile phones. Mr Grant expects the auction to take between one week to five weeks to complete, but declined to give the government's target revenues from the auction. The Australian Government revealed in February's budget that its revenues target from auctioning various telecommunications licences for the year to June 30 next year was A$2.6 billion (about HK$11 bilion), he said. He rejected criticism that consumers would suffer from the auction because the high licence costs would be shifted from the operator to the consumer.