Consultation on the proposed designation of spectrum for spectrum licensing in the 2 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands closed on 31 January 2017.
In response to the consultation paper, the ACMA received submissions from:
Submissions indicated that stakeholders were supportive of the ACMA’s proposals. Stakeholders were of the view that the ACMA should make a recommendation to the Minister for Communications and the Arts that he make a notice designating the 2 GHz band and available parts of the 3.4 GHz band for allocation by spectrum licensing. Separately, Optus also indicated its support for the proposals.
The way forward
The ACMA has made a recommendation to the minister that he designate the following spectrum for allocation by issuing spectrum licences. The precise geographic areas for each frequency range is as identified in the consultation paper:
2 GHz band:
- 1920–1935 MHz and 2110–2125 MHz in the major capital cities of Sydney Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin and Hobart.
- 1935–1960 MHz and 2125–2150 MHz in the major capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin and Hobart.
- 1960–1980 MHz and 2150–2170 MHz in the major capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin and Hobart and regional east and west Australia.
3.4 GHz band:
- 3439–3442.5 MHz in the Adelaide, Hobart and Launceston areas.
- 3489–3490 MHz in the Hobart and Launceston area.
- 3490–3492.5 MHz in the Perth, Brisbane, Canberra, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Hobart and Launceston areas.
- 3542.5–3546 MHz in the Sydney, Brisbane Canberra, Rockhampton and Toowoomba areas.
- 3546–3547 MHz in the Brisbane, Canberra, Rockhampton and Toowoomba areas.
- 3547–3575 MHz in the Brisbane areas.
Proposed designation of spectrum for spectrum licensing—2 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands; includes Attachment A
Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex interference into mobile broadband user equipment at 2 GHz
In 2000, the then Minister for Communications Information Technology and the Arts made the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Re-allocation) Declarations (the re-allocation declarations), which allowed the ACMA’s predecessor to introduce spectrum licensing in the 2 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands. These re-allocation declarations have lapsed and are no longer in force.
The absence of an in-force re-allocation declaration has no effect on existing spectrum licensees in the band. Nor does it affect the re-issue of those licences to the same licensees in the public interest, under section 82 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992. However, it does affect the ACMA’s options for allocating any spectrum in the two bands that are not currently allocated through spectrum licensing.
In the case of the 2 GHz band, this limitation currently affects the small number of lots left unsold after the original auction of spectrum licences in both bands. It would also affect any further 2 GHz lots that were left vacant after expiry of current licences, if any existing licenses are not reissued. Spectrum licences in the 2 GHz band are now approaching expiry (11 October 2017). The ACMA has already commenced its spectrum licence re-issue process.
In the case of the 3.4 GHz band, a small number of spectrum licences were not re-issued at expiry in 2015, and the band also contains some spectrum that was not allocated in the original price-based allocation process.
As these unlicensed parts of the two bands are, or would be, interspersed amongst spectrum that is held as spectrum licences, it is desirable that all spectrum in the band should be subject to the same licence type—including terms, conditions and duration. However, the absence of an in-force re-allocation declaration prevents the ACMA from allocating these lots as spectrum licences.
To be able to allocate all available spectrum in the 2 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands as spectrum licences, a ministerial notice is required under subsection 36(1) of the Act designating this spectrum as available for spectrum licencing, which may follow a recommendation from the ACMA to that effect following public consultation. The consultation paper addressed this requirement.