The Government is consulting on a possible designation of the 3.4 GHz band for allocation by spectrum licences.
Why we want your inputWe are seeking your feedback on whether designating the specified frequencies and areas in the 3.4 GHz band is appropriate, and the form any designation should take.
How you can voice your opinionYou can provide comment on the proposed designation by making a submission to this consultation process. Submissions are due by 5pm Tuesday, 20 October 2020.
What will be the outcome of this consultation?Your submissions will help us to inform the Minister on whether to proceed with a designation of the 3.4 GHz band in these areas and frequencies and the form a designation should take.
The Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts is considering making a designation notice under section 36 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act). This would designate parts of the spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band (from 3400 MHz to 3575 MHz) for allocation by spectrum licences with respect to specified areas. We are seeking stakeholder views on this possible designation.
Designating this spectrum for spectrum licensing would aid in the efficient allocation and use of the spectrum in the band, support flexible spectrum management by licensees and ACMA, facilitate further rollouts of 5G technology and enable NBN Co to improve services on its fixed wireless networks.
Further details of the frequencies and areas proposed for designation are provided in the attached consultation paper and draft designation notice.
Designation of spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band for spectrum licensing—Consultation Paper
Published 23rd Sep 2020
The Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts is considering exercising his power under section 36 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 to designate parts of the spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band (from 3400 MHz to 3575 MHz) for allocation by spectrum licences with respect to specified areas. To support the Minister’s consideration of this issue, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications is seeking stakeholder views on a possible designation of part of the 3.4 GHz band for spectrum licensing.
Radiocommunications (Spectrum Designation—3.4 GHz Band) Notice 2020
Published 23rd Sep 2020
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Following consultation, the Minister has decided to designate parts of the 3.4 GHz band for spectrum licensing. The Radiocommunications (Spectrum Designation – 3.4 GHz Band) Notice 2020 (the Notice) was signed on 10 December 2020.
The Department received seven responses to this consultation, published below. Submissions were generally supportive of the Minister designating the band for spectrum licensing and agreed with the Government’s policy objectives for making the Notice.
ACMA, in supplementary advice to the Minister following the Department’s consultation, suggested that the Notice only include those areas and frequencies encompassing NBN Co’s apparatus licences in the band. The vacant regional spectrum proposed for designation could be allocated by ACMA concurrent with any allocation of spectrum in the 3.7 – 4.2 GHz band, which ACMA has recently consulted on. This approach would enable a more efficient allocation of ‘mid-band’ spectrum and ACMA indicated stakeholders expressed support for this approach in its consultation on the 3.7 – 4.2 GHz band.
Telstra’s submission on the draft designation notice similarly proposed that a single allocation process be undertaken for any allocation of ‘urban excise’ spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band and any spectrum in the 3.7 – 4.2 GHz band. Optus and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) suggested in their submissions that ACMA harmonise spectrum arrangements across the 3.4 GHz, 3.6 GHz and 3.7 – 4.2 GHz bands.
Based on this feedback, the final version of the Notice was amended from the exposure draft so as not to include vacant spectrum in regional areas. This spectrum may be allocated in future by ACMA in conjunction with any spectrum to be allocated in the 3.7 – 4.2 GHz band, pending ACMA’s planning decisions. Adopting this approach gives ACMA greater flexibility to determine appropriate licensing arrangements for this spectrum and the most efficient and effective means for its allocation.
The designation notice signed by the Minister designates areas and parts of the spectrum encompassing apparatus licences held by NBN Co. This will require ACMA to commence a process to offer NBN Co spectrum licences to replace these apparatus licences. If NBN Co accepts the offered spectrum licences, regulatory barriers to licence defragmentation will be reduced and it will be possible for licences to increase the contiguity of their holdings in the band through licence trades or variations.
The Minister has also directed ACMA on the spectrum access charges payable by NBN Co for spectrum licences offered as part of the conversion process.