Update—13 April 2017
Initial submissions closed on 7 March 2017. Eight submissions were received, five of which are on the public record and can be accessed from the ‘Other submissions received’ tab in the right hand side index.
Some respondents highlighted the relationship of this issue with the 700 MHz unsold lots allocation process and requested further consultation following that process. With that in mind, the ACMA temporarily deferred consideration of this issue until completion of the auction. Results of the auction process were made public on the 12 April 2017 and the ACMA invited additional or supplementary submissions in light of the auction outcomes.
Supplementary submissions closed on 19 May 2017. Five supplementary submissions were received, three of which are on the public record and can be accessed from the ‘Other submissions received’ tab in the right hand side index.
Consultation paper: Reconfiguring the 890–915/935–960 MHz band
In May 2011, we commenced a review of arrangements in the 803–960 MHz frequency band. Following two rounds of consultation, a decision paper was released in November 2015, detailing a range of reforms and an implementation plan.
The review’s main focus was on refarming spectrum not currently allocated for mobile broadband. It also touched on how existing mobile broadband allocations could be replanned to be more economically and technically efficient. In particular, it discussed the rationale for a potential reconfiguration of the existing 890–915/935–960 MHz band.
We’ve continued to explore 890–915/935–960 MHz band reform options, which are now the subject of this consultation process.
The 890–915/935–960 MHz band has for many years been the primary band for the operation of 2G (GSM) networks. However, the deployment of 3G and 4G services has resulted in a decline of 2G subscriptions. The three mobile network operators (MNOs) licensed in the band—Optus, Telstra and Vodafone—have now committed to shutting down their respective 2G networks.
Optus, Telstra and Vodafone currently hold paired 8.4, 8.4 and 8.2 MHz apparatus licences respectively. 4G (LTE) technologies currently represent the optimal use of this band, and while the MNOs have, to varying degrees, re-farmed some of their existing spectrum holdings in the band to deploy 3G and 4G services, the band in its entirety cannot be efficiently used for 3G/4G services unless it’s allocated in integrals of 5 MHz blocks.
A consultation paper released in November 2016 examined a range of options to reconfigure the band into 5 MHz blocks. The options identified included various combinations of interventionist, non-interventionist, market-based and non-market-based solutions. The consultation paper provided an analysis of the reconfiguration options by evaluating them against a range of public interest criteria.
Issues for comment
The ACMA invites additional or updated submissions on the issues set out in the discussion paper or any other relevant issues.
Are the reform options presented in this paper appropriate, and are there any implementation issues or suggestions that haven’t been identified?
What are the consumer implications of the options presented? In particular, how would options that would involve a clearance of incumbent operators affect industry and consumers?
Are there any other options that may have been overlooked?
Are the criteria against which the options have been examined appropriate?
- Are there any other additional criteria that should be included in this analysis?
Are the preferred options (options 3 and 4) identified in this paper appropriate to meet the reform objectives?
- If not, which of the alternative options would be more appropriate?
- If so, is there a clear preference between option 3 and 4?