The ACMA concluded its consideration of this issue with the release of its paper Reconfiguring the 890–915/935–960 MHz band: Way forward. Further consultation on some outstanding issues is invited in that paper. Please refer to the paper and IFC page for further detail on this consultation and outcomes of the review.
Input was invited across two rounds of submissions. Eight initial submissions were received, followed by five supplementary submissions. Overall, eight public submissions were made, while five were made in-confidence. Submissions can be viewed from the ‘Other submissions received’ tab in the right hand side index.
In May 2011, we commenced a review of arrangements in the 803–960 MHz frequency band. Following two rounds of consultation, a decision paper was released in November 2015, detailing a range of reforms and an implementation plan.
The review’s main focus was on refarming spectrum not currently allocated for mobile broadband. It also touched on how existing mobile broadband allocations could be replanned to be more economically and technically efficient. In particular, it discussed the rationale for a potential reconfiguration of the existing 890–915/935–960 MHz band.
We’ve continued to explore 890–915/935–960 MHz band reform options, which are now the subject of this consultation process.
The 890–915/935–960 MHz band has for many years been the primary band for the operation of 2G (GSM) networks. However, the deployment of 3G and 4G services has resulted in a decline of 2G subscriptions. The three mobile network operators (MNOs) licensed in the band—Optus, Telstra and Vodafone—have now committed to shutting down their respective 2G networks.
Optus, Telstra and Vodafone currently hold paired 8.4, 8.4 and 8.2 MHz apparatus licences respectively. 4G (LTE) technologies currently represent the optimal use of this band, and while the MNOs have, to varying degrees, re-farmed some of their existing spectrum holdings in the band to deploy 3G and 4G services, the band in its entirety cannot be efficiently used for 3G/4G services unless it’s allocated in integrals of 5 MHz blocks.
A consultation paper released in November 2016 examined a range of options to reconfigure the band into 5 MHz blocks. The options identified included various combinations of interventionist, non-interventionist, market-based and non-market-based solutions. The consultation paper provided an analysis of the reconfiguration options by evaluating them against a range of public interest criteria.
Issues for comment
The ACMA invites additional or updated submissions on the issues set out in the discussion paper or any other relevant issues.
Are the reform options presented in this paper appropriate, and are there any implementation issues or suggestions that haven’t been identified?
What are the consumer implications of the options presented? In particular, how would options that would involve a clearance of incumbent operators affect industry and consumers?
Are there any other options that may have been overlooked?
Are the criteria against which the options have been examined appropriate?
- Are there any other additional criteria that should be included in this analysis?
Are the preferred options (options 3 and 4) identified in this paper appropriate to meet the reform objectives?
- If not, which of the alternative options would be more appropriate?
- If so, is there a clear preference between option 3 and 4?