February 25, 2024

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Australian Government approves auction process for 5G spectrum

On
Mar 8, the Australian Government announced
that auction process for 5G spectrum, paving the way for new 5G services in
metropolitan and regional Australia.

According
to the announcement, the 125 MHz of spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band will be sold
at competitive auction.

Spectrum
in the 3.6 GHz band is highly valuable as it is being recognised
internationally as a key band for the roll out of 5G services.

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

“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,” Australian Minister for Communications Senator
Mitch Fifield said.

As reported
earlier
, Minister Fifield released a 5G
directions paper
in October 2017 and announced the formation of a 5G
working group to ensure Australia has the right regulatory settings to allow 5G
applications to flourish.

Minister
Fifield has now issued re-allocation declarations for the 3.6 GHz band
consistent with a recommendation from the Australian
Communications and Media Authority
(ACMA).

The
ACMA is the independent statutory authority and spectrum regulator that is tasked
with ensuring most elements of Australia's media and communications
legislation, related regulations, and numerous derived standards and codes of
practice operate effectively and efficiently, and in public interest.

The
ACMA’s recommendation was informed by an extensive public consultation process
which commenced in October 2016.

 “The ACMA’s recommendation provides for an
unprecedented 7-year re-allocation period in regional Australia. 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 re-allocation period if agreed with a new spectrum licence
holder,” Minister Fifield said.

In
addition, the ACMA has proposed to work with these providers to establish
site-based, coordinated licensing arrangements in the 5.6 GHz band, and is
investigating the possibility of licensing in alternative bands.

Incumbent
users will have 2 years to vacate the band in the metropolitan capitals of
Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney; 5 years to vacate the band
in Perth; and 7 years to vacate the band in regional Australia, ensuring
incumbent operators have ample time to make new arrangements.

As
part of the reallocation process, the Minister has also written to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
(ACCC)
seeking advice on competition limits for the auction process.

The
ACMA is expected to commence the auction in October.

The
declaration documents are available at the Federal Register of Legislation.

Australian
Government recognises that 5G technology is an enabler of innovation and
productivity across industry sectors and can significantly contribute to
Australian’s growth and future prosperity. 

Last
December, the Australian Government has formed
a 5G working group that brings together representatives from across
Government and industry to foster an ongoing discussion on 5G issues.

As reported
earlier
, the 5G Working Group met last month to discuss the development of
5G technology in Australia. It is expected to meet at least twice each year,
before the review of its role by 30 June 2019.

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