Issue for comment 16/2015—22 June 2015
On 26 May 2015, the Minister for Communications (the minister) made a declaration that spectrum in the frequency ranges 1725–1785 MHz and 1820–1880 MHz in regional Australia (the ‘regional 1800 MHz band’) is to be reallocated by the issue of spectrum licences.
Accordingly, the ACMA is preparing to allocate by auction the regional 1800 MHz band. The ACMA will also include in the auction spectrum that remains unallocated from the recently completed expiring spectrum licence process for the 1800 MHz band (‘residual lots’).
The draft instruments
The draft allocation instruments describe the product being offered in the auction (the draft marketing plan) and set the rules and procedures that will govern the auction process for the allocation of spectrum (the draft allocation determination).
The ACMA has also prepared a draft technical variation instrument that it proposes to make to amend the existing technical instruments to support the operation of fixed services under an 1800 MHz band spectrum licence in regional areas while managing interference and the potential for spectrum denial.
The technical instruments provide the technical and interference management rules for the operation of radiocommunications devices in the spectrum licensed band. The ACMA has previously made technical instruments for 1800 MHz band as part of the expiring spectrum licence process:
- an unacceptable interference determination
- three radiocommunications advisory guidelines.
The ACMA is seeking comment from stakeholders on the draft instruments that the ACMA proposes to use for the auction of the spectrum:
A consultation paper provides background on the purpose of the instruments.
Making a submission
The ACMA invites written comments from stakeholders on the draft allocation instruments, the draft technical variation instrument and other matters raised in the consultation paper by COB Friday 17 July 2015.
Submissions on the draft instruments will be taken into account by the ACMA in preparing the final allocation and technical instruments.
Submissions should be sent to:
By email: SpectrumLicensingPolicy@acma.gov.au
Spectrum Licensing Policy Section
Spectrum Management Policy Branch
Australian Communications and Media Authority
PO Box 78
Belconnen ACT 2616
Media enquiries should be directed to Emma Rossi on 02 9334 7719 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is increasing demand for access in regional Australia to the frequency range 1725—1785 MHz and 1820—1880 MHz (‘the regional 1800 MHz band’). This is due to the increasing availability of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, including 4G, to deliver mobile services. The regional 1800 MHz band is predominantly used for fixed services that are authorised under apparatus licences. The ACMA has formed the view that existing regulatory arrangements in the band are not well able to accommodate mobile services. Since 2011, an embargo has applied to the 1800 MHz band stating that no further apparatus licences are to be issued in the frequency.
The ACMA commenced consultation in 2012 with all stakeholders to identify appropriate regulatory approaches to balance the needs of both existing and prospective licensees in the band. The ACMA considers spectrum licensing to be the licensing arrangement best able to accommodate emerging high-value uses of the band such as mobile services. Spectrum licences give licensees certainty of tenure and the flexibility to deploy different technologies under the same licence. The 1800 MHz band is already spectrum-licensed in all major metropolitan areas. Part of the wider 1800 MHz band (1710–1725 MHz and 1805–1820 MHz) is spectrum-licensed in regional Australia. The ACMA considers that extending spectrum licensing to the rest of the band would provide the opportunity for more efficient use of spectrum through contiguous holdings and help to facilitate trading of licences in the band.
In February 2015, the ACMA released for public comment a draft recommendation it proposed to make to the minister about reallocating spectrum in the regional 1800 MHz band by issuing spectrum licences. Following consideration of stakeholder submissions, the ACMA made recommendations to the minister in May 2015 about the regional 1800 MHz band under section 153F of the Act.
On 26 May 2015, following consideration of the ACMA’s recommendation, the minister made a declaration that spectrum in regional 1800 MHz band is to be reallocated by the issue of spectrum licences. The key elements of the declaration are:
- spectrum in the regional 1800 MHz band are subject to re-allocation
- the regional 1800 MHz band is to be re-allocated by issuing spectrum licences
- the re-allocation period is the period of two years from the day the declaration commences
- the re-allocation deadline is the day before the first anniversary of the commencement of the declaration.
A spectrum designation was made by the minister on 29 January 2014, which provides that the residual lots are to be allocated by issue of spectrum licences.
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.
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 that apply to organisations and Australian Government agencies.
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.