Mobile network infrastructure forecasting model | ACMA

Mobile network infrastructure forecasting model


Mobile data traffic has been experiencing rapid growth, driven by increasing consumer and business take-up and use of mobile broadband technologies, according to 2014 ACMA research. The mobile broadband sector has also provided a significant boost to the Australian economy—leading to a $33.8 billion increase in Australia’s economic activity in 2013 (measured in terms of GDP).

Associated with the increasing demand for mobile broadband technologies is demand for radio spectrum. Generally, mobile network operators have three options when it comes to meeting demand requirements: acquiring additional spectrum, deploying additional sites (that is, more mobile phone base stations) or using more spectrally efficient technologies.

To help inform how this interaction works, and to deepen our understanding of elements of spectrum demand, the ACMA commissioned Analysys Mason to develop a mobile network infrastructure forecasting model. The model, developed with input from mobile network operators, makes projections about the infrastructure requirements for the mobile sector. Results are presented in terms of the number of sites a mobile operator requires to satisfy different forecasts for data demand.

The model is a tool available to mobile network operators to use in undertaking their own assessment of their future spectrum, infrastructure and technology requirements, and it forms part of the ACMA’s ongoing commitment to building capabilities through an open data approach. Analysis using the model can be undertaken by changing the assumptions about a range of mobile network inputs, including traffic projections, spectrum allocations and spectral efficiency.

The publicly released version of the model and associated report have had all commercial-in-confidence material provided by mobile network operators redacted.

Why we commissioned the model

Understanding the factors that underpin both current and future spectrum demand for mobile services in Australia is an important strategic priority for the ACMA in efficiently managing Australia’s spectrum resource.

The model and accompanying report address a number of the ACMA’s strategic spectrum information requirements including:

  • developing a better understanding of the state of the mobile broadband communications market following the results of the digital dividend auction in 2013
  • contributing to the update of the ACMA’s Five-year spectrum outlook
  • contributing to the ACMA’s forward research program; in particular, providing a strong foundation for future spectrum-related research
  • providing evidence to contribute to an update to the ACMA’s mobile broadband strategy.

The model and accompanying report have benefited greatly from extensive mobile broadband operator input. For example, the ACMA can include updated traffic forecasts in the model to see their impact on the spectrum/infrastructure trade-off.

Release date

June 2015

Model and related material 



Mobile network infrastructure forecasting model

Excel: 15 MB

Mobile network infrastructure forecasting report

Word: 3.3 MB

WAS network capacity forecasting model user guide

PowerPoint: 1 MB

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Last updated: 01 March 2019