DBCDE confirms spectrum renewal plans

10 Feb 2012

The Australian government expects to raise around AUD3 billion (USD3.2 billion) over the next four years through the renewal of mobile frequencies currently held by the country’s network operators. Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy has announced the release of two instruments that enable the reissue of spectrum licences for mobile phone and wireless broadband services to existing licensees. The first of these is a class of services determination that identifies mobile voice and data, wireless broadband and satellite services in certain spectrum bands. The second instrument is a direction on pricing of the spectrum used for these services. The Radiocommunications (Class of Services) Determination 2012 was adopted by the Minister on 9 February 2012 and includes the following: mobile voice and data services provided in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2GHz spectrum bands, wireless broadband services provided in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum bands, and satellite services in the 27GHz spectrum band.

The second instrument meanwhile is a direction on pricing of the spectrum used for these services. The Radiocommunications (Spectrum Access Charges) Direction 2012, also issued by the minister on 9 February 2012, indicates the amount that the Minister has directed the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to reflect in spectrum access charges. Operators with spectrum in the 800MHz band will be required to pay AUD1.23 per megahertz per person in a given area for 15-year permits, while 1800MHz frequencies will be charged at AUD0.23 per megahertz per person.

Commenting on the development, Senator Conroy noted: ‘Reissue of licences will provide certainty about the continuity and operation of mobile and wireless communication networks … This decision has involved a careful evaluation of how the public interest is served by allowing renewal of current licences, as well as identifying appropriate pricing for renewed spectrum.’