Australian communications minister approves sale process for 3.6GHz spectrum

9 Mar 2018

Australia’s government has approved the sale process for 5G-suitable frequencies, confirming that 125MHz of spectrum in the 3.6GHz band will be offered via competitive auction. With the aforementioned band currently used for fixed satellite service earth stations, point-to-point links and site-based wireless broadband services, communications minister Mitch Fifield has now issued frequency re-allocation declarations consistent with a recommendation from the independent spectrum regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

As per the ACMA’s recommendation, incumbent users of the 3.6GHz band will have: two years to vacate the band in the metropolitan capitals of Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney; five years to vacate the band in Perth, to allow additional time for incumbent satellite users in the area; and seven years to vacate the band in regional Australia. In addition, the ACMA has proposed to work with providers to establish site-based, coordinated licensing arrangements in the 5.6GHz band, and is also investigating the possibility of licensing measures in alternative bands. As part of the reallocation process, meanwhile, the communications minister has also written to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) seeking advice on competition limits for the auction process, with the sale itself now expected to get underway in October 2018.