Communications ministry publishes policy objectives for 850MHz, 900MHz band spectrum

11 May 2020

Australia’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) has published policy objectives which it said are intended to ‘help guide decision making for the proposed allocation of the [850MHz and 900MHz] bands, which are pivotal to the delivery of mobile services across Australia’.

With the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) having previously proposed to optimise and allocate frequencies in the aforementioned bands using a ‘market-based process’ in Q4 2021, the DITRDC has listed five policy objectives, noting: ‘In some cases, different objectives may need to be balanced against each other, or require trade-offs to be made.’

Of the five policy objectives, the most notable is ‘supporting the deployment of 4G and 5G technologies’, with the DITRDC highlighting the fact that, at present, the 850MHz and 900MHz bands are not properly optimised for 4G or 5G services. As such, it said that a reconfiguration of the bands would support the deployment of 4G and 5G networks and enable more efficient use of the spectrum, while it also pointed to the fact that lower-band spectrum ‘is important for broader 4G and 5G coverage, including in regional Australia, and will complement holdings of 5G-suitable mid and high-band spectrum’.

Meanwhile, the other four communications policy objectives were listed as: promoting competitive market outcomes for the long-term benefit of consumers; encouraging investment in telecommunications infrastructure, including in regional Australia; supporting continuity of services, and; supporting a national Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB) capability.

For its part, the ACMA is expected to begin consulting on its plans for the 850MHz and 900MHz bands ‘soon’.