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2.5 GHz band review

Outcomes of the review of the frequency range 2500-2690 MHz (the 2.5 GHz band) and long-term arrangements for electronic news gathering (ENG).

Our work on this band was focused on three areas:

  • conversion of existing 2.5 GHz Television Outside Broadcast Network (TOBN) apparatus licences to spectrum licences in the mid-band gap
  • the reallocation of 2500-2570/2620-2690 MHz via spectrum licences
  • developing long term arrangements for ENG in alternative bands to the 2.5 GHz band

Designation of the 2.5 GHz mid-band gap

In 2012 the Minister made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Designation) Notice No. 1 of 2012 designating the 2.5 GHz mid-band gap (2570-2620 MHz) be allocated as spectrum licences.

The terms of the proposed designation notice for the 2.5 GHz mid-band gap were set out in the information paper Review of the 2.5 GHz band and long-term arrangements for ENG – designation proposal on which we consulted in 2011.

Following a consultation process, we made the Radiocommunications Spectrum Conversion Plan (2.5 GHz Mid-band Gap) 2012 which allowed for conversion of apparatus licences in the mid-band gap to spectrum licences.

Instruments for the technical framework to underpin the 2.5 GHz spectrum licences:

Reallocation of specified parts of the 2.5 GHz band

On 1 November 2011, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (the Minister) made 2 Spectrum Re-allocation Declarations, declaring that parts of 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz band were to be reallocated as spectrum licences.

The declarations set out that:

  • the frequency bands 703-748 and 758-803 MHz in the 700 MHz band are to be reallocated as spectrum licences
  • the frequency bands 2500-2570 and 2620-2690 MHz in the 2.5 GHz band are to be reallocated as spectrum licences

We reallocated the 700 MHz band and the 2.5 GHz band in a single process. Further information regarding this reallocation of spectrum can be found at the following page: Allocation of the 700 MHz (digital dividend) and 2.5 GHz bands.

Long term arrangements for ENG in alternative bands

The frequency band plan under section 32 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 gives effect to the new arrangements for ENG operation in the alternative bands.

Before making a decision on arrangements for accommodating different types of Television Outside Broadcast (TOB) applications within the alternative bands, we sought further advice from industry. Revised proposals were developed after considering submissions to the October 2011 consultation. 

History

In Australia the 2.5 GHz band was almost exclusively licensed to the commercial free-to-air television broadcasters and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for ENG.

In the context of the 2.5 GHz review, the phrase 'ENG' was taken to encompass the following:

  • Electronic News Gathering (ENG): the rapid, unplanned deployment of links to cover breaking news events, generally for short periods of time
  • Television Outside Broadcast (TVOB): a planned use of group links employing a variety of techniques to provide specialist coverage of a particular event such as live sports, live entertainment and cultural events
  • Electronic Field Production (EFP): a planned use of links to provide elements of a television production. This technique can be used for 'live' to air television or pre-recording for later broadcast (the latter generally involves more elaborate television production values)

Following identification of the 2.5 GHz band internationally for use by Wireless Access Services (WAS), harmonisation was increased across advanced economies.

We therefore commenced a review of the arrangements for the 2.5 GHz band with the following key objectives:

  • maximising the overall benefit derived from the spectrum
  • providing long term certainty for the incumbent licence holders of the band

Following a range of consultation processes, we formed the view that in order to achieve those objectives it was necessary to implement new arrangements in the 2.5 GHz band and a range of 'alternative bands', other bands which were directly affected by the planned changes in the 2.5 GHz band.

These new arrangements involved:

  • reallocation of 2500-2570 MHz and 2620-2690 MHz for spectrum licences
  • conversion of apparatus licences currently held by the commercial free-to-air broadcasters and the ABC to 15 year spectrum licences on an Australia-wide basis in 2570-2620 MHz ('the mid-band gap' of the 2.5 GHz band)
  • ENG access to the following 'alternative bands'
    • shared use of the bands 2025-2110 MHz and 2200-2300 MHz
    • exclusive use of the band 2010-2025 MHz, at least in capital city areas
    • ENG access to 1980-2010 MHz and 2170-2200 MHz, with the caveat that mobile-satellite services may be introduced into these bands in the future, with the ACMA investigating the viability of long-term sharing between ENG and mobile-satellite services

Proposed new arrangements in the 2.5 GHz band

Bar chart showing proposed new arrangements 2.5 GHz band

In 2010 we released the discussion paper Review of the 2.5 GHz band and long-term arrangements for ENG. The paper set out a range of options to achieve the objectives of the 2.5 GHz band review, and identified a combined conversion/reallocation approach as the preferred means of facilitating the highest value use of the 2.5 GHz band and for providing incumbent users of the band with access to spectrum into the future.

We received 42 submissions in response to the discussion paper, of which one was classified as commercial-in-confidence.

We then released a Response to Submissions paper which marked the end of the consultation phase on the 2.5 GHz band review and allowed the review to move into the implementation phase. The Response paper summarised the issues raised in submissions to the January 2010 discussion paper, provided our preliminary response to those issues; and outlined the processes we planned to undertake during the implementation phase.

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