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Proposed approach to expiring spectrum licences

We are seeking feedback on a proposed process for spectrum licences that are due to expire between June 2028 and October 2032.

Submissions now public
Days remaining 0 of 77 days
  • 1

    Consultation opened

    23 May 2023
  • 2

    Consultation closed

    07 Aug 2023
  • 3

    Outcome and submissions published

    19 Dec 2023

Key documents


From May to August 2023, we consulted on our proposed approach to ESLs.

We have now concluded Stage 1 of the ESL work program, with the publication of the finalised framework and response to submissions (see Key documents above). 

Finalising the ESL process and responding to submissions was originally planned for Q1 2024. To support stakeholders, we are providing them with earlier certainty about the ESL process and more information and time to prepare for stage 2. 

The Expiring spectrum licences: Finalised framework and response to submissions paper:

  • confirms the 4-stage process
  • expands on and affirms the public interest criteria
  • presents our response to submissions.

Following consideration of submissions, we have made the following key changes to the ESL process: 

  • expanded on the public interest criteria, and provided guidance for stakeholders on how to use them when engaging with the ESL process
  • narrowed the focus of the stage 2 information-gathering exercise
  • used stage 2 to provide earlier views about spectrum uses for the bands covered by ESL
  • we also use this paper to incorporate the Minister for Communication’s policy guidance into the ESL framework.  

The minister has written to the ACMA to express support for our approach to ESLs, and to identify which of the policy priorities in the December 2022 Statement of Expectations are relevant to the ESL process. The minister has also signaled an intention to specify a number of policy priorities for ESL in a Ministerial Policy Statement (MPS). The minister has indicated an intention to consult on the MPS in early 2024. We have incorporated the proposed policy priorities into our public interest criteria and will make any necessary changes following consultation on the MPS.

The minister has also asked us to: 

  • develop a considered view on the use of alternative licensing conditions (including rollout obligations and their effectiveness in achieving broader coverage), and use-it-or-lose-it and use-it-or-share-it conditions and their effectiveness in achieving more efficient spectrum use 
  • seek feedback from stakeholders on any issues around resilience and temporary disaster responses that arise in the context of spectrum licenses and their renewal. 

We will publicly consult, and invite stakeholder feedback, on these matters as part of stage 2. 

Next steps

Stage 2 will commence in Q1 2024. We will release a paper to gather information from stakeholders about their current and future use of the spectrum covered by ESLs. We will also seek information from prospective users of the spectrum about their alternative uses for the spectrum. 

We will also seek submissions on our views about the uses for the bands covered by ESLs and on the alternative licensing conditions identified by the minister in their letter. 


Submissions that were not made on a confidential basis are published at the bottom of this page.

Original consultation: Update

After requests from stakeholders, we have extended the closing date for submissions to this consultation from 24 July 2023 to COB, Monday 7 August 2023

The issue

Spectrum licences across the 700 MHz, 850 MHz (original band and downshift), 1800 MHz, 2 GHz, 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands are due to expire between 2028 and 2032.

We are responsible for considering whether to renew these expiring spectrum licences (ESL) and the appropriate arrangements for the affected spectrum.

In addition to the ESL process, we are also seeking feedback on proposed public interest criteria and approaches to examining use under spectrum licences.

In our Draft five-year spectrum outlook 2023–28, we stated that we would begin consultation on ESLs in Q2 2023, 5 years ahead of the expiry date of the first set of affected licences in June 2028 (that is, ESLs in the original 850 MHz band and 1800 MHz band).

This will be the first ESL process conducted since changes were made to the Radiocommunications Act 1992 in 2020 that changed how renewal of ESLs is conducted, requiring a new approach to be developed.

This consultation paper, available above in PDF and Word versions, seeks views on our suggested:

  • 4-stage process for considering arrangements for ESLs
  • public interest criteria
  • issues that should be considered as part of this ESL process
  • approaches to examining use under spectrum licence.

Find out more about our process for expiring spectrum licences.

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