ACMA seeks stakeholders comment on 5G spectrum in the 1.5 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands

Australia —

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued a discussion paper entitled ‘Future use of the 1.5GHz and 3.6GHz bands’ as it explores options for 5G mobile broadband spectrum.

The paper invites opinion from different stakeholders on the possible use for mobile broadband services of spectrum in the 1.5 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands, as foreshadowed in the October 2016 update to the ACMA’s Mobile Broadband Work Program.

‘In the last year, consideration of these bands for mobile broadband has progressed significantly on the international stage,’ said acting ACMA Chairman Richard Bean. ‘Given the momentum developing, the time is right for us to consider the potential for re-planning the bands in Australia.

‘There are international standards that support 4G technologies in both the 1.5 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands. Importantly, the 3.6 GHz band is also being looked at internationally as an early band for 5G and the ACMA has decided to bring forward discussion of its future use. Re-farming these bands would enable additional capacity for new or existing operators’ mobile networks,’ Richard Bean added.

The 1.5 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands are currently used by a variety of services. They include satellite and fixed-broadband services in the 3.6 GHz band, and defence use and fixed services, particularly in regional and remote areas, in the 1.5 GHz band.

‘This paper gives current users of the bands as well as potential new entrants an opportunity to help us better understand the issues relevant to each band. Their views will help us to determine what, if any, frequencies and geographical areas should be considered in a possible future re-farming of the bands for mobile broadband,’ Richard Bean said.

The 1427-1518 MHz band (the 1.5 GHz band) and the 3575-3700 MHz band (the 3.6 GHz band) are currently included in the initial investigation stage of the ACMA’s Mobile Broadband Work Program. The 2016-2020 update to the Five Year Spectrum Outlook indicated that in Quarter 4 of 2016 the ACMA would release a discussion paper to further progress consideration of the 1.5 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands.

An analysis of current usage as well as potential planning options for re-farming are provided in the discussion paper.

The ACMA is seeking comment from stakeholders on these options to help inform its decision making. This includes whether or not to progress consideration of one or both of the bands to the preliminary re-planning stage of the ACMA’s Mobile Broadband Work Program.