Expiring spectrum licences | ACMA

Expiring spectrum licences

The 15-year spectrum licences have begun to expire and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) is responsible for managing the administrative process for their expiry. These processes include consideration of reissue of spectrum licences and the development of reallocation processes where required.

The ACMA’s policy is to provide incumbent and prospective licensees with certainty, where possible, regarding the outcome of expiring spectrum licences in each band, approximately 18 months before expiry of the licence/s.

The table below sets out the dates at which issued spectrum licences will expire:

Expiry

Frequency Band

Bandwidth

Main use

3 May 2015

1800 MHz

1755-1785

1850-1880 MHz (paired)

 

2 x 30 MHz

Public mobile telephony

24 Jul 2015

2.3 GHz

2302-2400 MHz

 

98 MHz

Wireless access services

13 Dec 2015

3.4 GHz

3425-3442.5 MHz

3475-3492.5 MHz (unpaired)

3442.5-3475 MHz

3542.5-3575 MHz (unpaired)

 

17.5 MHz

17.5 MHz

32.5 MHz

32.5 MHz

Wireless access services

18 Jan 2016

27 GHz

26.5-27.5 GHz

 

1 GHz

Wireless access services,

Satellite service

11 Oct 2017

2 GHz

1900-1920 MHz

1920-1980

2110-2170 MHz (paired)

 

20 MHz

2 x 60 MHz

Public mobile telephony

26 Apr 2021

20 & 30 GHz

20.2-21.2 GHz

30-31 GHz (paired)

 

2 x 1 GHz

Satellite service

17 Jun 2028

(reissued licences)

800 MHz

825-845 MHz

870-890 MHz (paired)

 

2 x 20 MHz

Public mobile telephony

17 Jun 2028

(reissued licences)

1800 MHz

1710-1755

1805-1850 MHz (paired)

 

2 x 45 MHz

Public mobile telephony

ACMA’s indicative timetable for expiring spectrum licences – June 2014

The table below indicates the ACMA’s indicative timetable for expiring spectrum licences. The ACMA’s policy is to provide both incumbent and prospective licensees with certainty, where possible, regarding the outcome of expiring spectrum licences in each band approximately 18 months before expiry of the licence/s. This indicative work plan will enable the ACMA to delivery this process in an efficient and transparent manner.

Band

Activities

Timeframe

1800 MHz tranche 2

(Expiry: 3 May 2015)

Technical Frameworks

Complete

Reissue consideration

Complete

Payment of spectrum access charge

8 November 2013, 30 April 2014  and 30 July 2014

Preparation for reallocation (if required)

August 2014

2.3 GHz

(Expiry: 24 Jul 2015)

Technical Frameworks

Complete

Reissue consideration

Completion expected August 2014

Payment of spectrum access charge

Expected by September 2014

Preparation for reallocation (if required)

June/July 2014

3.4 GHz

(Expiry: 13 Dec 2015)

Review of existing arrangements

Expected commencement
Q2 2014

Technical / Regulatory frameworks

Expected commencement
Q2 2014

Reissue consideration (if required)

Expected commencement
Q4 2014

Preparation for reallocation (if required)

Expected commencement
Q1 2015

27 GHz

(Expiry: 17 Jan 2016)

Review of existing arrangements

Expected commencement
Q2 2014

(Informed by outcome of 28/31 GHz review)

Technical / Regulatory frameworks

Expected commencement
Q3 2014

Reissue consideration (if required)

Expected commencement
Q3 2014

Preparation for reallocation (if required)

Expected commencement
Q1 2015

2 GHz

(Expiry: 11 Oct 2017)

Review of existing arrangements

Expected commencement 2015

Technical / Regulatory frameworks

Expected commencement 2015

Reissue consideration (if required)

Expected commencement 2015

Preparation for reallocation (if required)

Expected commencement 2015

The ACMA’s administrative reissue process

Under the Act, there are two options available for handling spectrum licences upon expiry.

  • Undertake a reallocation process (generally via auction) in accordance with section 60 of the Act.
  • Reissue licences to the same licensees without undertaking a price-based allocation process, if:
    • the licence is used to provide a service which is included in the class of services for which the minister determines re-issuing licences to the same licensees would be in the public interest; or
    • the ACMA is satisfied that special circumstances exist such that it is in the public interest for the existing licensee to continue to hold the licence.

On 10 February 2012, the then Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, announced that he had made a ‘class of services’ determination that it would be in the public interest to reissue licences to incumbent licensees providing:

  • mobile voice and data communications services in the 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2 GHz bands;
  • wireless broadband services in the 2.3 GHz, 3.4 GHz bands; and
  • satellite services in the 27 GHz band.

The making of this class of services determination allowed the ACMA to begin its reissue consideration under section 82(1)(a) of the Act (use in the provision of a relevant service). The ACMA uses information contained in the Register of Radiocommunications Licences (RRL) to undertake an assessment of whether a spectrum licence has been used. However, it is the responsibility of the licensee to provide evidence that the spectrum licence has been used to provide a service of a type specified in the minister’s ‘class of services’ determination. Where the ACMA cannot determine use from the information contained in the RRL, the ACMA will request that this evidence also be provided by the licensee where available.

Where the ACMA agrees that the evidence sufficiently demonstrates that a licence was used to provide a service of a type specified in the class of services determination, the spectrum licence will be offered for reissue at the price specified in accordance with the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Access Charges) Direction 2012 (the Direction). The purpose of the Direction is to specify the amount that the Minister considers to be the value of the spectrum in relation to the spectrum bands specified (see Table 1 of the Direction) and direct the ACMA that the spectrum access charges, in respect to reissued licences, fixed by it in a determination made under section 294(1) of the Act reflect that amount.

The spectrum access charge (SAC) for each licence to be reissued will be determined by the ACMA and calculated as follows:

SAC = Value specified in the Direction x Bandwidth authorised in the licence (MHz) x Population of the licence area

The ACMA will also consider reissue under section 82(1)(b) (special circumstances) where applications are received from incumbent licensees.

A flowchart (Word or PDF) sets out the processes by which the ACMA will consider reissue of expiring spectrum licences, in the two circumstances provided for in section 82(1) of the Act.

Bands which are no longer subject to spectrum licensing

500 MHz band

The 500 MHz band (500.99375-504.99375 MHz and 510.99375-514.99375 MHz) was subject to spectrum licensing. An outcome of the 400 MHz band review was that spectrum licensing in the 500 MHz band would cease when licences expired on 31 May 2012. In accordance with section 36(1) of the Act, on 20 December 2010 the then Minister revoked the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Designation) Notice No. 1 of 1996. The 500 MHz band is now subject to apparatus licensing.

28 and 31 GHz band

The 28 and 31 GHz bands (27.5-28.35 GHz and 31-31.3 GHz) were subject to spectrum licensing. Following a review of arrangements in the bands, the ACMA decided that the bands should cease to be spectrum licensed when licences expired on 31 January 2014.

In accordance with section 36(1) of the Act, on 26 June 2013 the then Minister revoked the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Designation) Notice No. 1 of 1998. The 28 GHz band is now subject to apparatus licensing.

Spectrum licences in the 31 GHz bands expired and no action was taken to reallocate the licences prior to expiry. As a result, spectrum in the 31 GHz band is no longer subject to spectrum licensing. 

Last updated: 28 June 2017