ACMA outlines reforms of 803MHz-960MHz spectrum band

20 Nov 2015

A decision paper detailing the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA’s) long-term strategy for the 803MHz-960MHz band has been published, in which the regulator has set out a range of planned reforms to the band, as well as a detailed timetable to 2024 for their implementation.

One key element of the reforms is the progressive clearance of some services over the next decade to allow for allocation of the 850MHz ‘expansion’ band for mobile broadband services. The new allocation will also make use of a vacant piece of former analogue television spectrum (803MHz-820MHz) that was unable to be utilised as part of the 700MHz ‘digital dividend’. Decisions on the timing and method of allocation of the 850MHz expansion band are yet to be made.

Alongside the country’s major mobile broadband service providers, the ACMA noted that there is an ‘established community of users’ in the 803MHz-960MHz band which provide trunked land mobile services, fixed links, sound outside broadcast and studio-to-transmitter links, while there are also myriad consumer devices that operate under the Low Interference Potential Devices (LIPD) class licence in the 915MHz-928MHz band. As such, reforms will have implications for some of those services.

Commenting on the development, ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said: ‘Further reform of the 900MHz GSM band to optimise it for mobile broadband services will continue to be a key work item for the ACMA and will be pursued separately from the broader implementation plan set out in this paper … In a sense, we’re fortunate these issues are largely ‘self-contained’ to the existing three licensees (Telstra, Optus and VHA). This makes it possible for the ACMA to deal with these issues in isolation to the implementation of those broader reforms to the 803MHz-960MHz band detailed in the paper. We’ll be consulting directly with the relevant industry stakeholders to bring about the desired changes to the 900MHz GSM band.’