Replacement of the 900 MHz Band Plan | ACMA

Replacement of the 900 MHz Band Plan

Issue for comment 20/2015—18 August 2015

Submissions

The submission period is now closed. Four submissions were received. Upon consideration of these submissions, the ACMA has decided to proceed with making two new administrative band plans as proposed.

Background

The ACMA is currently conducting a review of the 803–960 MHz band to ensure the band is used efficiently, can accommodate current and future demands, and continues to maximise the public benefit. Two rounds of consultation have previously been undertaken on this issue, and a third paper will be released shortly to outline decisions on new arrangements for the band and set out the implementation plan for transition to these arrangements. More information about the review is available.

The 820–960 MHz band is currently regulated by the Radiocommunications 900 MHz Band Plan (900 MHz Band Plan), which is a legislative instrument. Planning and allocation of spectrum is a complex process involving the consideration of a range of factors to ensure that frequency allocations are fit-for-purpose, promote efficient use and pose minimal risk of interference to/from other services. In frequency bands where regulation is needed to ensure that spectrum realises its optimum public benefit, the ACMA develops band plans, which are high-level documents that outline how specific radiofrequencies are to be used.

Band plans can be issued in two forms—legislatively under the Act (for example, the current 900 MHz Band Plan) or administratively in the form of a policy document. Although the two types of plan serve similar purposes, administrative plans are a statement of policy rather than a statement of law, which affords the ACMA greater flexibility to make revisions or exceptions to the plan when required.

The 900 MHz Band Plan was made in 1992 (last amended in 1999), and is due to sunset (that is, be automatically revoked) on 1 October 2015. While not related to the review itself, this is timely as it provides an opportunity to replace the current legislative band plan with two administrative band plans, which will be a necessary step in implementing the review outcomes. The rationale for two replacement plans is provided below.

At this stage, the ACMA intends to make only minor changes to existing allocative arrangements:

  • splitting the frequencies covered into two administrative band plans covering the frequency ranges 803–890 MHz (800 MHz band) and 890–960 MHz (900 MHz band) respectively, which reflect accepted nomenclature on the frequency limits of these bands
  • incorporating the band 803–820 MHz, which is currently unallocated (this band was vacated as part of the digital dividend process, but was not incorporated into the 700 MHz band)
  • correcting typographical and grammatical errors.

In terms of actual frequency allocations in the new band plans, it is proposed that the existing allocations in the 900 MHz Band Plan will, for now, be replicated in the new administrative band plans. That is, there will be no new allocations at this stage.

However, while the ACMA intends to only make minor changes at this time, flexibility will be needed to enable future incremental amendments to the new plans to implement a comprehensive set of reforms over a long transition period. Hence, the ACMA has formed the view that administrative, rather than legislative, band plans are the most appropriate means to efficiently and effectively allocate services to frequency segments in the 803–960 MHz band.

The rationale for creating two administrative band plans is to align with the revised nomenclature for the 803–960 MHz band, which was announced in previous consultation. This nomenclature reflects accepted industry and international parlance, which by convention now identifies the 800 and 900 MHz bands as being very much distinct from one another. This is a significant change that has occurred in the period since the original development of the 900 MHz Band Plan in 1992, and has largely resulted from technology developments, particularly in the mobile telecommunications sector.

Furthermore, the inclusion of the 803–820 MHz frequency range under the 900 MHz band plan could potentially cause confusion, especially now that the frequencies lower-adjacent to that segment are now referred to as the 700 MHz band.

The proposed new administrative band plans are available at:

RALI numbers will be assigned sequentially following finalisation.

The ACMA is seeking stakeholder feedback on the proposal to replicate the current allocative provisions in the 900 MHz Band Plan (without significant change, except incorporating the currently unallocated 803–820 MHz frequency segment) in two new administrative band plans. This is on the basis that this is an effective and efficient way to maintain the existing allocative arrangements while providing the flexibility to make future amendments.

Making a submission

Submissions should be directed:

By email: 900MHzreview@acma.gov.au

By mail:    The Manager
                Space and National Interest Planning Section
                Spectrum Planning and Engineering Branch
                Australian Communications and Media Authority
                PO Box 78
                Belconnen ACT 2616

The closing date for submissions is COB, Tuesday 15 September 2015.

Each submission should specify:

  • the name of the individual or organisation making the submission
  • their contact details (such as a telephone number, postal address or email address).

A submitter may claim confidentiality over their name or contact details (see Publication of submissions below) or may make a submission anonymously or through use of a pseudonym (see Privacy below).

Effective consultation
The ACMA is committed to ensuring the effectiveness of its stakeholder consultation processes, which are an important source of evidence for its regulatory development activities. To assist stakeholders in formulating submissions to its formal, written consultation processes, it has developed the following guide: Effective consultation: A guide to making a submission. This guide provides information about the ACMA’s formal, written, public consultation processes and practical guidance on how to make a submission.

Publication of submissions
In general, the ACMA publishes all submissions it receives, including any personal information in the submissions (such as names and contact details of submitters). The ACMA prefers to receive submissions which are not claimed to be confidential. However, the ACMA accepts that a submitter may sometimes wish to provide information in confidence. In these circumstances, submitters are asked to identify the material (including any personal information) over which confidentiality is claimed and provide a written explanation for the claim. The ACMA will consider each confidentiality claim on a case-by-case basis. If the ACMA accepts a claim, it will not publish the confidential information unless authorised or required by law to do so.

Release of submissions where authorised or required by law
Any submissions provided to the ACMA may be released under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (unless an exemption applies) or shared with other Australian Government agencies and certain other parties under Part 7A of the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005. The ACMA may also be required to release submissions for other reasons including for the purpose of parliamentary processes or where otherwise required by law (for example, under a court subpoena). While the ACMA seeks to consult submitters of confidential information before that information is provided to another party, the ACMA cannot guarantee that confidential information will not be released through these or other legal means.

Privacy
The Privacy Act 1988 imposes obligations on the ACMA in relation to the collection, security, quality, access, use and disclosure of personal information. These obligations are detailed in the Australian Privacy Principles.

The ACMA may only collect personal information if it is reasonably necessary for, or directly related to, one or more of its functions or activities.

The purposes for which personal information is being collected (such as the names and contact details of submitters) are to:

  • contribute to the transparency of the consultation process by clarifying, where appropriate, whose views are represented by a submission
  • enable the ACMA to contact submitters where follow-up is required or to notify them of related matters (except where submitters indicate they do not wish to be notified of such matters).

The ACMA will not use the personal information collected for any other purpose, unless the submitter has provided their consent or the ACMA is otherwise permitted to do so under the Privacy Act.

Submissions in response to this paper are voluntary. As mentioned above, the ACMA generally publishes all submissions it receives, including any personal information in the submissions. If a submitter has made a confidentiality claim over personal information which the ACMA has accepted, the submission will be published without that information. The ACMA will not release the personal information unless authorised or required by law to do so.

If a submitter wishes to make a submission anonymously or through use of a pseudonym, they are asked to contact the ACMA to see whether it is practicable to do so in light of the subject matter of the consultation. If it is practicable, the ACMA will notify the submitter of any procedures that need to be followed and whether there are any other consequences of making a submission in that way. 

Further information on the Privacy Act and the ACMA’s privacy policy is available at www.acma.gov.au/privacypolicy. The privacy policy contains details about how an individual may access personal information about them that is held by the ACMA, and seek the correction of such information. It also explains how an individual may complain about a breach of the Privacy Act and how the ACMA will deal with such a complaint.

Last updated: 15 March 2016