Australia’s telcos are one step closer to being able to use millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum to deliver 5G services, with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) proposing to allow wireless broadband services to operate in the 26GHz (24.25–27.5 GHz) band under a hybrid-use licensing model.
In Australia, the first 5G services will launch using spectrum in the expanded 3.6GHz band: Telstra, Optus, a Vodafone-TPG joint venture and Dense Air all picked up 3.6GHz spectrum in an auction conducted last year by the ACMA.
However, 5G applications are expected to eventually use a variety of low band (sub 1GHz), mid band (1-6GHz), and high band (6GHz+ — but particularly mmWave spectrum).
The 26GHz band is the next focus for the ACMA following last year’s auction.
A new paper issued by the ACMA proposes the introduction of wireless broadband services in the band, with the regulator eyeing a coexistence of 5G services alongside other wireless applications.
The 25.1–27GHz frequencies will be the key range for telcos, with the ACMA proposing “spectrum licensing for wide-area wireless broadband in metropolitan areas and large regional centres”. In other areas it proposes apparatus licensing for wireless broadband.
Existing satellite ground stations that rely on the 25.5-27GHz spectrum will be able to continue to operate, with the ACMA proposing to attach conditions to wireless broadband licences to prevent any interference (new ground stations may be permitted in some areas).
The 27–27.5GHz range will be treated similarly but with protections for NBN satellite gateways and other satellite-related infrastructure.
The ACMA’s current proposal is to allocate 24.25–24.7GHz for use Australia-wide in wireless broadband limited to private property (including “domestic, industrial, business, commercial and government”) and restricted to indoor use only. The 24.7–25.1GHz spectrum will also be available for wireless broadband services limited to private property.
The ACMA anticipates it could begin allocating 26GHz spectrum in the second half of 2020.
The regulator is also considering arrangements for the 28GHz band, which telcos are also interested in. Viasat has called for the band to be reserved for satellite services.