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Mobile broadband

Five-year spectrum outlook 2016–20

Consultation closes: 20 January 2017

IFC: 23/2016 FYSO

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Five-year spectrum outlook 2016–20

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Media release


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Five-year spectrum outlook

The Five-year spectrum outlook (FYSO) provides an annual overview of the ACMA’s spectrum management priorities and issues over the near to medium term, and its plans to address them. Stakeholders can use the document to identify when the ACMA expects a particular work program to commence, and to understand the priority applied to particular activities by the ACMA.

The FYSO is an important component of the ACMA’s consultation and planning framework for spectrum management. It provides information on demand pressures for spectrum and other significant challenges arising from the external environment. Publication of the FYSO supports consultation on specific spectrum issues, discussion papers and feedback through the ACMA’s RadComms conferences and spectrum tune-ups.

This edition of the FYSO will be used to more actively seek engagement with industry on the ACMA’s spectrum management priorities and work plan. Stakeholders will have more information on what the ACMA is working on and why, and more opportunity to feedback into the process, including the format and detail of the work plan.

Communication about the progress and changes to the work plan will be made via website updates. An industry seminar about the progress and changes to the work plan in the FYSO will be held during the first 12 months.
This year the FYSO is presented in four parts:

Part 1

Part 1 sets out the ACMA’s high-level approach to decision-making, how evidence is used to identify priorities and develop work programs, and information on external pressures that affect spectrum management. The key issue for the ACMA will be the extent to which implementation of the Spectrum Review recommendations will affect the ACMA’s spectrum management priorities in the future.

Part 1 also includes a discussion of the ACMA’s response to the significant issues affecting current and future demand for spectrum with particular emphasis on the mobile broadband. It also discusses the ACMA’s preparatory work to facilitate access to spectrum for 5G, IoT and DSA technologies.

Part 2

Part 2 presents the ACMA’s work plan for the next 12 months, in two parts:

  • In the first part, key priority projects are grouped under three broad themes, which reflect the ACMA’s framework when prioritising spectrum management work.
    • The first theme—maximising the overall public benefit arising from the use of spectrum—reflects the ACMA’s Principles for Spectrum Management.
    • The second theme—reducing the cost to business arising from regulation—reflects the government’s better regulation agenda. This is consistent with the government’s objective to remove the impediments to regulation by increasing productivity from innovation and the digital economy.
    • The third theme—implementing current reform priorities—recognises that the ACMA is responsible for implementing outcomes from major reforms.
  • In the second part, projects and activities are listed in two tables on the following basis:
    • band-by-band projects
    • regulatory and service-planning projects.

Part 3

Part 3 contains the ACMA’s mobile broadband strategy update. This is the first mobile broadband annual update to be included in a FYSO. The update outlines each of the projects that fall under the program, with details such as the project phase, work undertaken and next steps.

Part 4

Part 4 sets out the ACMA’s spectrum management work programs it expects to commence, or continue to progress over the FYSO period. It represents the ACMA’s preliminary thinking on priorities and provides an early opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback on the ACMA’s proposed planning framework.

Issues for comment

The ACMA invites comments on the issues set out in the Five-year spectrum outlook 2016–20 (available to download in the table above) or any other issues relevant to spectrum demand analysis and strategic direction. Specific questions are featured in the relevant sections of this FYSO, and collated below.


To assist the ACMA in its considerations about 5G in the context of its broader mobile broadband work program (see Part 3), comment (along with supporting evidence) is sought on the following questions:

  • When, or under what circumstances, would it be appropriate for potential 5G millimetre wave (mmW) bands to progress beyond ‘monitoring’ in the ACMA’s mobile broadband work program?
  • What is the relative priority of investigation of mmW bands versus other potential mobile broadband bands below 6 GHz?
  • What disposition should the ACMA adopt in progressing possible 5G mmW bands? Specifically, is a traditional approach appropriate, where Australia would wait until there were clear signs of a harmonised, widespread ecosystem developing in a band before it was seriously considered domestically? Or should a more proactive approach be adopted that would potentially make available bands very early in a more speculative manner? What are the benefits and risks to each approach?
  • What bands are the most mature in terms of possible early moves on 5G mmW bands?
  • What technical considerations are relevant to possible early moves on 5G mmW bands? For example, what is the minimum contiguous bandwidth considered suitable for individual licences and the industry as a whole? Are some of these considerations flexible in order to support an early move?
  • What spectrum sharing and incumbency considerations will be most relevant to 5G mmW bands (acknowledging that the answer will depend on the specific band under consideration)?
  • Do the mmW bands offer opportunities for new spectrum sharing and/or licensing approaches? If so, what opportunities should be investigated?
Internet of things (IoT)

To assist the ACMA in its considerations on IoT, comment (along with supporting evidence) is sought on the following questions:

  • Are there any spectrum bands that should be further investigated by the ACMA for potential future use for IoT applications? Why? The ACMA in particular seeks views on possible opportunities in the VHF band for IoT.
  • Are there any sectors of industry that require increased engagement from the ACMA regarding spectrum for IoT applications?
Dynamic spectrum access (DSA)

To assist the ACMA in its considerations on the issues surrounding dynamic spectrum access, comment (along with supporting evidence) is sought on the following questions:

  • When, or under what circumstances, would it be appropriate to move beyond monitoring international regulatory and technical developments and consider implementation of arrangements in Australia?
  • Are there specific industry sectors and applications where DSA is likely to be a candidate for early opportunity for adoption?
  • Are there simple changes that can be made to the regulatory framework that would better allow facilitation of trials of DSA approaches and development of implementation arrangements?
  • Are there any spectrum bands, services and/or applications, in particular that will be, or should/shouldn’t be, targeted in
  • Australia for trials or initial implementation of DSA frameworks?
5G, IOT and DSA

Are there any impediments or restrictions arising from the regulatory framework that would impact on the deployment of 5G, IOT and DSA?

The ACMA's approach to the 12-month work plan

The ACMA welcomes feedback on our proposed approach to the development of the 12-month work plan, including its format and content. The ACMA is also keen to receive feedback on the proposed communication channels for notifying stakeholders of progress on and changes to the work plan.

How to submit

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