The ACMA has recently concluded its consultation on future arrangements in the 28 and 31 GHz bands (frequency ranges 27.5–28.35 GHz and 31–31.3 GHz).
These bands are currently spectrum licensed, with licences expiring on 31 January 2014. This gave the ACMA the opportunity to review arrangements in the bands to both ensure future arrangements will maximise the overall public benefit from use of the spectrum and to give certainty to incumbent licensees.
In January 2013, the ACMA released the consultation paper Review of licensing arrangements in the 28/31 GHz bands. The paper explained that the ACMA had formed the preliminary view that introducing apparatus licensing Australia-wide in these bands would enable them to meet their highest value use when current spectrum licences expire. Apparatus licensing would also provide flexibility to meet the changing demand in use for the bands in the future as new technologies emerge.
The ACMA invited submissions from interested parties on appropriate future arrangements in the bands. Ten submissions were received, with the majority agreeing with the ACMA’s proposal.
Following consideration submissions, the ACMA remained of the view that the 28 and 31 GHz bands should no longer be allocated by issuing spectrum licences. The ACMA is therefore currently implementing new arrangements in the bands.
The 31 GHz band
The ACMA has no evidence of current demand for licences in this band. Accordingly, it does not propose to create arrangements for the issue of apparatus licences from February 2014, when current spectrum licences expire. Instead, the ACMA will review its planning arrangements for this band into the future and proposes to issue licences only when a clearer picture of demand emerges. This is consistent with the views expressed in submissions to the consultation paper.
The 28 GHz band
The ACMA has recommended to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy that he revoke the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Designation) Notice No. 1 of 1998 for the 28 GHz band under subsection 36(1) of the Radiocommunications Act 1992. If the minister accepts this recommendation, it will allow the ACMA to issue apparatus licences in the 28 GHz band, after they expire in January 2014. Subject to the minister’s decision, the ACMA will then work with holders of expiring spectrum licences to develop arrangements to provide continuity for existing services, where licensees seek these arrangements.
Invitation to participate in the development of arrangements in the 28 GHz band
The ACMA is seeking industry and stakeholder involvement in a Technical Liaison Group (TLG) to develop arrangements for the operation of a mix of fixed and satellite services in the 28 GHz band. The objective of the TLG is to consider and provide input on the development of band arrangements and frequency assignment criteria for the band. The expectation is that any arrangements developed will apply to new and converted apparatus licences in the band from February 2014. The ACMA encourages both incumbent and prospective licensees, as well as other interested stakeholders, to participate in the TLG. Further information on the TLG is available here. The implementation plan below shows key steps in the review of the 28 and 31 GHz bands: Implementation plan Activity Date Public consultation paper released January 2013 Submissions considered and released on the ACMA website April 2013 Recommendation to the minister that he revoke the 28 GHz band designation notice May 2013 Establish the Technical Liaison Group Late July 2013 Technical Liaison Group concludes Aug/Sept 2013 Current spectrum licences expire 31 January 2014 New band arrangements implemented February 2014