Expiring spectrum licences | ACMA

Expiring spectrum licences

This article is taken from the ACMA's Five-year Spectrum Outlook 2013-2017, published in September 2013. 

The Five-year spectrum outlook 2013–2017  is available for download as an e-mag, PDF and word document here. The Table of contents and links to individual sections of the report are available here.


 

In the late 1990s and early 2000s the Australian Communications Authority issued the first spectrum licences under the Act across nine different bands. These licences are now approaching the end of the 15-year licence term and are part of the ACMA’s current project on expiring spectrum licences.

The Act presumes that expiring spectrum licences are to be reallocated by price-based allocation or, if it is in the public interest to do so, to be reissued to the same licensee. The Act provides that expiring spectrum licences may only be reissued to the same licensee under either of two circumstances:

1. The licence was used in the provision of a service included in a class of services specified in a Ministerial determination made under subsection 82(3) as a class of services for which reissuing spectrum licences to the same licensees would be in the public interest.

2. The ACMA is satisfied that special circumstances exist as a result of which it would be in the public interest to reissue the licence to the same licensee.

In February 2012 the minister made a ‘class of services’ determination relating to the reissue of spectrum 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 and 3.4 GHz bands
  • satellite services in the 27 GHz band.

The minister also directed the ACMA as to the spectrum access charges—that is, the fee per MHz of spectrum, per capita in the licence area—that should apply to licences reissued in the bands covered by the class of services determination.

The making of these instruments allowed the ACMA to commence its spectrum licence reissue considerations. Where licences are not reissued to the incumbent licensee, they would usually be subject to a price-based allocation process, for example an auction.

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

Accordingly, the ACMA has developed a forward work plan for expiring spectrum licences that considers each band separately as licence expiry approaches, with a view to considering all the technical and regulatory issues associated with a band at the same time, rather than on a per licence or licensee basis.

To date, the ACMA has commenced its reissue considerations for the 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2.3 GHz bands.

Table 4.2 sets out the processes the ACMA will follow as licence expiry approaches in each band.


Table 4.2 Work plan for expiring spectrum licences

Band

Time frame

1800 MHz

Licence expiry:

3 May 2015

Technical framework

Reissue consideration—Tranche 2 (2015)

>         Commenced in August/September

Reallocation process

>         2014

2.3 GHz

Licence expiry:
24 July 2015

 

Technical framework

>  Commencement October 2012

>  Includes consideration of the potential replanning from 98 MHz to 100 MHz bandwidth

Reissue consideration

>         Expected commencement from Q3, 2013

Reallocation process

>         TBA

3.4 GHz

Licence expiry:
13 December 2015

 

Technical framework

>         Expected commencement Q1/2 2014

>         Includes consideration of planning arrangements

Reissue consideration

>         Expected commencement from Q2, 2014

Reallocation process

>         TBA

27 GHz

Licence expiry:
17 January 2016

 

Technical framework

>         Expected commencement 2014

Reissue consideration

>         Expected commencement 2014

Reallocation process

>         TBA

2 GHz

Licence expiry:
11 October 2017

Technical framework

>         Expected commencement 2014

Reissue consideration

>         Expected commencement 2014

Reallocation process

>         TBA

Last updated: 03 September 2014