ACMA begins consulting on 5G spectrum auction arrangements

21 May 2018

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released its draft spectrum licensing instruments in the 3.6GHz band (3575MHz–3700MHz), with a view to ‘moving one step closer to enabling 5G mobile broadband services’. The regulator plans to auction frequencies in the aforementioned band later this year, ahead of which ACMA chairperson Nerida O’Loughlin said: ‘The ACMA is consulting on the details of the spectrum licences to be offered in the 3.6GHz band, the draft rules of the auction and the technical framework that will underpin the new licences … Consultation will ensure that these are fit-for-purpose for the auction process.’

Details of the ACMA’s plans are contained in both a newly-published discussion paper regarding the matter, as well as in several draft legislative instruments, including a marketing plan and draft auction rules. With O’Loughlin noting that the 3.6GHz auction would ‘require incumbent operators in the band to make some changes’, in this context the ACMA is seeking comment on the introduction of planning arrangements to support frequency coordination and licensing of point-to-multipoint (P-MP) systems in the 5.6GHz band; this is one of several previously announced strategies to support the transition of existing services in the 3.6GHz band. Further, the regulator is also seeking comment on proposed measures to protect existing Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) radar services and make provision for additional radar services in future.

Alongside these publications, the ACMA has also released a draft five-year spectrum outlook (FYSO) for the period 2018–2022 for feedback, with this document presenting its spectrum management priorities for the coming year and over the medium term. The FYSO announces key elements of a revised allocation work programme, signals planning priorities, and updates progress on implementation of the Spectrum Review and new radiocommunications legislation.