2.5 GHz band under discussion

Friday, 05 February, 2010

The ACMA has released a discussion paper as part of its review of the pricing, planning and licensing arrangements for spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band. The 2.5 GHz band is currently used primarily by free-to-air TV broadcasters for electronic news gathering (ENG).

"This review has two important objectives," said Chris Chapman, chairman of the ACMA. "It is intended to identify how the 2.5 GHz band should be planned and allocated so that it accords with its highest value use. Also, we need to identify suitable long-term spectrum arrangements to support the essential ENG services, especially since there has been uncertainty about the long-term spectrum arrangements for ENG services in Australia since the international identification and harmonisation of the 2.5 GHz band for wireless access services in 2000."

The 2.5 GHz band has also been identified through previous public consultation as a candidate band to address emerging demand for broadband wireless access services. Indeed, it is the primary, internationally harmonised band for these services.

The ACMA has formed the view that the current planning, licensing and pricing arrangements in the 2.5GHz band are unlikely to support its future efficient allocation and use. The ACMA therefore considers it timely to review those arrangements.

The ACMA has developed a wide-ranging discussion paper about future options for the 2.5 GHz band and for ENG services.

The paper sets out a preliminary view that ENG services could continue to operate in part of the 2.5 GHz band. The remainder of the band would be made available for wireless access services via spectrum licensing in major metropolitan areas and may be available for both ENG and wireless access services in other areas.

If some ENG services do move from the 2.5 GHz band, additional spectrum in other bands will be required for these services to continue to operate. The paper identifies several other bands the ACMA believes might be suitable for these services. In some cases, other users may be required to relocate from these alternative bands, in which case the ACMA would work with them to identify other suitable spectrum.

The discussion paper, Review of the 2.5 GHz band and long-term arrangements for ENG, is available on the ACMA website. The closing date for comment is 12 March 2010.

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