ACMA unveils proposals for boosting rural mobile coverage

7 Oct 2009

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has called for feedback on proposals aimed at freeing up additional spectrum in the 2GHz band to enhance and expand mobile services in provincial and remote areas of the country. To that end, the regulator has released a discussion paper detailing the proposed public telecommunications service (PTS) apparatus licensing arrangement to support the coordinated deployment of mobile infrastructure in rural and remote areas. ‘The proposed arrangements were developed in response to requests from telecommunications providers for increased capacity in these areas, as well as to provide increased capacity for dual-band international roaming,’ said Chris Chapman, chairman of the ACMA. ‘The ACMA believes that the economic and efficient use of the spectrum, as well as the objects of the Radiocommunications Act, are likely to be best promoted by making vacant spectrum available on application to provide additional capacity for mobile telecommunications services, where that is consistent with existing uses.’ Under the proposals, the ACMA says that by issuing public mobile telecommunications services Class B (PMTS Class B) apparatus licences on a site coordinated basis, it will be able to provide access to the 2GHz band using a licensing arrangement that reflects the current use of the band in metropolitan and other areas for mobile services.

The move comes after a number of operators indicated an interest in gaining access to spectrum in the paired frequency bands 1920-1980MHz and 2110-2170MHz at the end of 2008. At present, the 2GHz band is allocated on a co-primary basis to fixed and mobile services.