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1800 MHz spectrum: Regional areas benefit

Hazy Spectrum lines

The Australian Communications and Media Authority today released the terms of a draft recommendation it proposes to make to the Minister for Communications about the reallocation of radiofrequency spectrum in the regional 1800 MHz band for long-term spectrum licences.

The increasing worldwide availability of Long Term Evolution (LTE) broadband mobile telecommunications technology using the 1800 MHz band has led to an increasing demand for access to it in regional areas to deploy mobile telecommunications services. 1800 MHz band spectrum in the major cities is already licensed and used extensively, mainly for 4G mobile telecommunications.

The demand in regional areas is coming from various industry sectors, including telecommunications carriers, mining and energy companies as well as railway authorities to deploy 4G communications networks and smart infrastructure systems across regional Australia.

‘Spectrum-licensed access to the 1800 MHz band would benefit various industry sectors in Australia and, ultimately, citizens and consumers, who would enjoy the flow on economic and social benefits from international harmonisation of this band and equipment economies of scale,’ said ACMA Chairman, Mr Chapman.

Spectrum in the regional 1800 MHz band (ranges 1725-1785 MHz and 1820–1880 MHz) is currently subject to apparatus licensing and is used mainly for fixed links.

‘Those licensing arrangements in the band are not able to accommodate potential future uses of the band, such as the delivery of mobile services to regional Australia,’ Mr Chapman said. ‘The release of the terms of the draft reallocation recommendation marks the first legislative step in reallocating the regional 1800 MHz band for new uses.’

‘The ACMA is committed to consultation, cooperation and collaboration on spectrum matters,’ he added. ‘I encourage all interested stakeholders, particularly those who hold apparatus licensees in the regional 1800 MHz band, to review the terms of the draft recommendation and consider providing a submission to the ACMA.’

The ACMA will consider all comments received on the terms of the draft recommendation before making a final recommendation to the Minister. If the Minister accepts the ACMA’s proposed recommendation and makes a reallocation declaration in relation to the regional 1800 MHz band, the ACMA intends to allocate the spectrum by auction.

The discussion paper, Draft spectrum reallocation recommendation for the 1800 MHz band - Regional areas of Australia, is available here. The closing date for comment is 11 March 2015.

For more information, please see the Backgrounder below, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 5/2014 - 10 February

Backgrounder

There is growing demand for access in regional Australia to the frequency range 1725 MHz–1785 MHz and 1820 MHz–1880 MHz (‘the regional 1800 MHz band’). This is due to the increasing availability of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, including 4G, to deliver mobile services. The ACMA has formed the view that existing regulatory arrangements in the band are not well suited to accommodate mobile services.

The regional 1800 MHz band is predominantly used for fixed services which are authorised under apparatus licences. These fixed services are typically used for backhaul purposes. Since 2011, the ACMA has applied an embargo to the regional 1800 MHz band to facilitate its replanning. The embargo states that no further apparatus licences are to be issued in the frequency.

The ACMA commenced consultation in 2012 with all stakeholders to identify appropriate regulatory approaches to balance the needs of both existing and prospective licensees in the band. The ACMA considers spectrum licensing to be the best arrangement to accommodate emerging high value uses of the band such as mobile services. Spectrum licences provide licensees with certainty of tenure and the flexibility to deploy different technologies under the same licence.

The frequency range 1710 MHz–1785 MHz and 1805 MHz–1880 MHz (‘the wider 1800 MHz band’) is already spectrum licensed in all major metropolitan areas. Part of the wider 1800 MHz band (1710 MHZ-1725 MHz and 1805 MHz-1820 MHz) is also already spectrum licensed in regional Australia. The ACMA considers that extending spectrum licensing to the rest of the band would provide the opportunity for more efficient use of spectrum through contiguous holdings and help to facilitate trading of licences in the band.

The ACMA has prepared a draft recommendation to the Minister for Communications that he make a spectrum reallocation declaration for the regional 1800 MHz band. Should the Minister make a declaration in accordance with the ACMA’s recommendation, the ACMA would proceed to allocate spectrum licences in the band. The ACMA considers market-based allocations of spectrum the most efficient and transparent way to move spectrum to its highest value use when demand for access to spectrum is greater than supply.

The ACMA has also prepared a discussion paper to explain the terms of the draft recommendation. It provides background to matters in the recommendation and also canvasses a range of other issues relating to a future allocation of the regional 1800 MHz band spectrum.

The ACMA invites written comments from potentially-affected apparatus licensees and other interested stakeholders on the terms of the draft recommendation and other matters raised in the discussion paper by 11 March 2015.

 

Last updated: 03 October 2016

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