5G spectrum auction process approved

By Jonathan Nally
Monday, 12 March, 2018

5G spectrum auction process approved

The federal government will conduct a competitive auction of 125 MHz of spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band, recognised internationally as a band vital for the rollout of 5G services.

In Australia, 3.6 GHz band is currently used for fixed satellite earth stations, point-to-point links and site-based wireless broadband services.

In October last year, Minister for Communications Senator Mitch Fifield released a 5G directions paper and announced the formation of a 5G working group.

The aim was to gather information to assist in ensuring Australia has the “right regulatory settings to allow 5G applications to flourish”.

The Minister has now issued reallocation declarations for the 3.6 GHz band consistent with a recommendation from the ACMA, which was informed by a public consultation process that commenced in October 2016.

“I have carefully considered the implications for regional Australians in making this decision, and the declaration provides protections for incumbent users in the band while ensuring Australia is well positioned to take advantage of 5G technology in years to come,” Minister Fifield said.

“The ACMA’s recommendation provides for an unprecedented seven-year reallocation period in regional Australia,” he added.

“This will allow incumbents, such as regional fixed wireless broadband operators, to continue to deliver services until the middle of next decade — and this could continue beyond the reallocation period if agreed with a new spectrum licence holder.”

The ACMA aims to work with these providers to establish site-based, coordinated licensing arrangements in the 5.6 GHz band and is looking into the possibility of alternative bands.

Incumbent users will be allowed time to vacate the band:

  • Two years in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.
  • Five years in Perth (the additional time is for satellite users in the area).
  • Seven years in regional Australia, giving incumbent operators time to make new arrangements.

The Minister has written to the ACCC to seek advice on competition limits for the auction process.

The ACMA will conduct the auction, which is expected to commence in October.

Image courtesy NIST.

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