Australian Government guidance on the Optus data breach

Radio frequency spectrum is a finite natural resource that is vital to the continued growth of Australia's digital economy. Consistent with the object of the Radiocommunications Act 1992, the Government aims to promote the long-term public interest derived from the use of the spectrum.

The physical properties of spectrum varies with frequency. This makes different frequency bands suitable for different applications.  For example, to optimally deploy 5G networks, mobile network operators will require spectrum across a number of complementary frequency bands. Low (sub 1 GHz) and mid-band (1 to 6 GHz) spectrum will provide broader geographic coverage for 5G technologies while high band (above 6 GHz) will provide for shorter-range, higher capacity services.

Major spectrum allocations allow valuable blocks of spectrum to be allocated, usually via auction, to support the rollout of communications networks.

The reforms to the Radiocommunications Act 1992, which came into effect on 17 June 2021, clarified the roles of the Minister and the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA). As a result of the reforms, the role of the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts is focused on providing policy guidance and high-level priorities, which are implemented by ACMA in its day-to-day spectrum management responsibilities, including spectrum allocations. The reforms formalised the ability of the Minister to provide policy guidance to ACMA, by providing the Minister with the power to issue Ministerial Policy Statements, which ACMA must have regard to in the performance of its spectrum management functions and the exercise of its spectrum management powers.

ACMA is required to provide a summary in its annual report outlining how it has had regard to any relevant Ministerial Policy Statement in performing its spectrum management functions and exercising its spectrum management powers. The reforms also require ACMA to consult the Minister before determining its annual Five-Year Spectrum Outlook, which sets out ACMA’s spectrum management priorities and work program.

A key aspect of the Department's work involves supporting the Minister to provide policy guidance to ACMA on spectrum matters, and to respond to ACMA’s annual consultation on the FYSO. In undertaking this role we work closely with ACMA staff, to understand ACMA’s spectrum management priorities and its plans for spectrum allocations.

Links to more detailed information on upcoming and completed major spectrum allocations are listed below:

Upcoming spectrum allocations

Completed spectrum allocations