Review of arrangements in the band
The key reasons we reviewed the 803–960 MHz band in 2015 were:
- parts of the 803–960 MHz band are unused or lightly used due to allocations to outdated technologies
- the re-stacking of digital TV channels, which provides a chance to expand the 800 MHz band for new services
- the timeliness of reviewing arrangements for 3G and 4G technologies
Decisions following on from the review include:
- identification of additional spectrum for mobile broadband
- identification of new spectrum to support low power, low duty cycle communications suitable for some types of machine-to-machine communications, such as smart infrastructure, metering and control
- new frequency arrangements for the trunked land mobile service (TLMS), including changes to bandwidth allocations
- new frequency arrangements for single and two-frequency fixed links, including changes to bandwidth allocations and frequency duplex splits, and a consolidation of sub-service types and licensing and assignment instructions to simplify access to these services
- a general ‘defragmentation’ of the 800 MHz band (to improve efficiency) and red tape reduction through simplifying fixed link sub-types and associated licensing and assignment instructions
Implementation excludes allocations within the spectrum licensed segment in the 850 MHz band (825–845/870–890 MHz). This is because these arrangements cannot be varied prior to expiry of the spectrum licences in 2028 without the consent of licensees.
803–960 MHz milestone transition timeline
The milestone transition timeline below lists milestones for ex-post compliance. This means that where action is required (for example, cessation of operation or retuning), operators will have 1 year from the stated date to comply with the milestone requirements.
The compliance dates listed are the dates by which the service must have met milestone requirements or have ceased operation.
Milestone 1 (compliance date 30 June 2019)
- Single frequency fixed links and studio-to-transmitter links (STLs) will be required to have ceased operation between 849 MHz and 852 MHz. Legacy single frequency (single channel) links operating in 857–861 MHz will be permitted to continue operation until Milestone 5.
- Sound outside broadcast (SOB) services will be required to have ceased operation above 851 MHz. SOB operating on a primary basis in 850.5–852 MHz will no longer be supported; however, operation will be supported on a secondary basis between 850.5 and 851 MHz (this will effectively extend the current secondary allocation to SOB from 846.5–850.5 MHz to 846.5–851 MHz).
Milestone 2 (30 June 2019)
- 2-frequency fixed links, including point-to-point and point-to-multipoint links, may commence retuning to the lower part of the 800 MHz band on a 45 MHz split in 804–806/849–851 MHz in areas currently serviced by trunked land mobile services (TLMS), (or 804–809/849–854 MHz in areas not currently serviced by TLMS, subject to further consideration should congestion issues arise). Completion of this transition will be required by 30 June 2021 (2-year transition window).
Milestone 3 (compliance date 30 June 2021)
- Two-frequency fixed links, including point-to-point and point-to-multipoint links will be required to have completed transition to the lower part of the 800 MHz band on a 45 MHz split in 804–806/849–851 MHz in areas currently serviced by TLMS, (or 804–809/849–854 MHz in areas not currently serviced by TLMS, subject to further consideration should congestion issues arise).
Milestone 4 (30 June 2021)
- TLMS operators may commence migration to the 2 x 3 MHz segments above two-frequency fixed links in the lower part of the 800 MHz band. The current 45 MHz split is maintained but a new 12.5 kHz-based channel raster is implemented. Channels may be aggregated, so 25 kHz channels will still be supported. Completion of this transition will be required 30 June 2024 (3-year transition window).
- New low duty cycle services in 928–935 MHz, including a range of control, metering and other M2M applications as well as fixed links, may commence operation from Milestone 4 on a non-exclusive basis. Development and testing of cognitive radio devices in 933–935 MHz may also commence from this date. Operation of these services will be subject to conditions specified in the updated LIPD Class Licence (by Key date 6—parameters for access as listed under Action 6.1 in Section 3.3.2).
Milestone 5 (30 June 2023 - compliance date 30 June 2024)
- TLMS will be required to have completed transition to the 2 x 3 MHz frequency-adjacent (above) two-frequency fixed links in the lower part of the 800 MHz band, maintaining the current 45 MHz split, but with a new 12.5 kHz-based channel raster (channels will be able to be aggregated, so 25 kHz channels will still be supported).
- Single frequency (single channel) fixed links will be required to have ceased operation in 857–861 MHz.
- Cordless telephone services will be required to have ceased operation in 857–865 MHz.
Milestone 6 (30 June 2024)
- Earliest date for commencement of operation of new services in the band 809–824/852–869 MHz. It should be noted that development of the technical framework and allocation of licences in the 850 MHz expansion band is anticipated to be completed prior to Milestone 6. This will be optimised for the provision of mobile broadband services, and would enable use by narrowband TLMS.
The objectives were to identify an additional spectrum for mobile broadband, new frequency arrangements for trunked land mobile service (TLMS), single and 2 frequency fixed links, and defragmentation of the 800 MHz band to improve overall efficiency.
The decision paper, The ACMA’s long-term strategy for the 803–960 MHz band contains a range of decisions on reforms to the 803–960 MHz band, as well as a detailed plan for the implementation of these reforms.
The following reforms, which were canvassed in previous consultation on the review, will be undertaken alongside the implementation plan set out this this paper:
- the reconfiguration of the 900 MHz ‘GSM band’
- allocation of the 850 MHz expansion band and a 1 MHz downshift of the 850 MHz spectrum licensed segment
Previous discussion papers and submissions
The 900 MHz band: Exploring new opportunities - June 2011
The 803 to 960 MHz band: Exploring options for future change - October 2012
Consultation paper: 800–900 MHz band, implementation of Milestone 1 arrangements
Consultation paper: Reconfiguring the 890–915/935–960 MHz band
Frequency assignment documents
Coordination Procedures for the Licensing of Services Sharing the 857–861 MHz band (SPP 4/93)