ACMA begins reallocating spectrum for 5G

Details re-farming of 3.6GHz, 900MHz bands

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has begun the process of reallocating spectrum in the 3.6GHz band for use in 5G services.

In June the ACMA consulted on the potential re-farming of 3.6GHz spectrum. The move affects a range of current users of the band, which include satellite earth stations in metropolitan areas and point-to-multipoint users in regional areas (such as some wireless Internet service providers).

“The 3.6GHz band is being looked at internationally as a pioneer band for 5G mobile broadband,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said in a statement. “We want to make sure Australia is well placed to realise the benefits 5G has to offer.”

The ACMA is also pushing forward with re-farming spectrum in the 900MHz GSM band for use in 4G services, following the decision by Vodafone, Telstra and Optus to switch off their 2G networks.

“We propose to do this over a number of years to avoid disruption of existing services,” O’Loughlin said.

“We also plan to make available additional spectrum already planned for reallocation to mobile broadband in the 850MHz band.”

Vodafone and Optus switched off their 2G networks this year. Telstra switched GSM services off in 2016.

The ACMA has also been consulting on accelerated release of spectrum in the 26 GHz mmWave (mmW) band for use in 5G services.

The regulator today also released its five-year spectrum outlook, covering 2017 to 2021.

The document notes that “continues its rapid and high profile development as the next generation of wireless network technologies”

“The ACMA acknowledges the importance and immediacy of 5G spectrum matters, and is committed to ensuring that Australia is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by 5G,” the outlook states.

The federal government earlier this month detailed its 5G strategy.

The government is convening a working group to assess issues and opportunities for the adoption of 5G as part of its four-pronged strategy.

The strategy includes rapid release of 5G-friendly spectrum, changing Australia’s spectrum management framework, changes to rules governing the rollout of telco infrastructure and engaging in international standardisation processes for 5G.

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