Spectrum demand drivers | ACMA

Spectrum demand drivers

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.


This chapter identifies the primary underlying drivers of spectrum demand.

3.1 Introduction

Over the last few years, the ACMA has focused on delivering a diverse range of significant spectrum initiatives. It has continued to make spectrum available for new mobile services and taken a lead role in the shift from analog to digital services. The ACMA has also established arrangements to manage the expiring spectrum licence processes to provide continuity of services for Australian businesses and consumers. The increasing pressure to deliver regulatory and technical spectrum management arrangements to support new users, while also maintaining access for incumbent services, shows no signs of abating.

Over the next three years, further pressure will be placed on the ACMA’s existing capability to respond flexibly to new spectrum management challenges. The ACMA will continue to investigate and explore options to reform its regulatory toolkit to meet these rising challenges. It is likely that the rate of transition in the communications landscape will amplify, with technological evolution continuing to require a shift from fixed to mobile arrangements in some bands. Traditional allocation methods will come under ever-increasing pressure to manage demand for access to bands to meet the future spectrum requirements of both government and commercially driven businesses. Streamlined spectrum regulation and efficient processes will be essential to ensure the Australian communications environment continues to cultivate technological innovation.

In Australia there are already more wireless than fixed-internet subscribers. This shift is expected to continue with 22 per cent annual growth in wireless subscribers compared to one per cent growth in fixed subscribers. Data traffic has surpassed voice on mobile networks, though at this stage the total volume of wireless data traffic is less than fixed data traffic. A priority for the ACMA in the next decade will be making more spectrum available to meet this unprecedented demand for mobile broadband and next generation services, while ensuring the protection of vital passive and sensing uses of spectrum.

The ACMA will also increase the focus on its ongoing reform agenda. This agenda encompasses the review and critical analysis of existing and emerging spectrum uses to continue to move spectrum to its highest value use. It also involves continual review of the spectrum toolkit to streamline regulation and ensure that it remains effective into the future.

The ACMA will continue to actively engage with government, industry and Australian citizens about new approaches to regulation and mechanisms for managing increasing demand pressures.

Last updated: 03 September 2014