DITRDC to reallocate 850MHz/900MHz spectrum to support 4G and 5G services

4 Nov 2020

Australia’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) has announced that the government has begun the process of allocating ‘essential spectrum in the 850MHz and 900MHz bands to support carriers to deploy more efficient 4G [and later 5G] mobile services across Australia’.

In a press release regarding the matter, the DITRDC claimed that the bands in question are not currently well optimised, and suggested that a reallocation of frequencies will allow the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to reconfigure the bands for 4G and 5G mobile services. As such, communications minister Paul Fletcher has issued a spectrum reallocation declaration – ‘The Radiocommunications (Spectrum Reallocation—850/900 MHz Band) Declaration 2020’ – which will allow for the reallocation of 20MHz of new spectrum for mobile broadband services in the 850MHz expansion band, as well as 50MHz in the 900MHz band, a band that carriers currently use for 3G and 4G. These new frequencies are expected to be made available via auction in the second half of 2021.

With the Australian authorities also planning to allocate high band (26GHz) 5G spectrum in April next year, Mr Fletcher said the government expects 2021 to be the ‘Year of 5G’, with the minister noting: ‘Low band spectrum can carry the 5G mobile signal longer distances, and is best for wide coverage indoors and outside. The mid band spectrum provides broad coverage and fast speeds and the high band spectrum will allow blazing fast speeds over shorter distances … We are making the low, mid and high bands available so that the telcos can provide better, faster and stronger 5G in Australia.’