ACMA to begin accepting applications for 5G mmWave spectrum next month

26 Oct 2020

According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the deployment of 5G technology in Australia ‘is a step closer’ as it prepares to begin accepting applications for millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 26GHz and 28GHz bands.

The ACMA is facilitating a mix of licence types in the 26GHz and 28GHz bands, including area-wide apparatus licences (AWLs), spectrum licensing in the 26GHz band for dense deployment of networks in high population areas, and class licences for so-called ‘ubiquitous’ low power devices. According to the regulator, AWLs will provide users with a more flexible licence type that can be scalable to a licensee’s needs, and the ACMA has now confirmed that the allocation and issuing of AWLs will occur in the 26GHz and 28GHz bands (24.7GHz-25.1GHz and 27.5GHz–30GHz, Australia-wide) in November 2020 (‘Round 1’). Applications for Round 1 open on 4 November 2020 and close at 5 PM on 17 November 2020. Meanwhile, a further AWL allocation is to be carried out after a spectrum auction, which is scheduled for H1 2021 (‘Round 2’), for AWLs in the frequency range 25.1GHz–27.5GHz in all areas other than those designated for spectrum licensing.

In separate but related news, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) has confirmed that successful bidders in next year’s 26GHz spectrum auction will be able to pay their spectrum access charges in five instalments, to support the rollout of 5G infrastructure. In a press release, the DITRDC said that the communications minister has directed the ACMA to implement this decision in its preparations for the auction, which is expected to get underway in April 2021. It has been claimed that offering instalment payments will give bidders greater flexibility in light of the challenging circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, it will also reportedly allow greater upfront investment in 5G technology and the additional infrastructure that will be required to use the 26GHz band.