AMTA calls on Government to set spectrum target

By 2027, 5G networks will carry 62% of the world’s mobile data traffic and cover 75% of the world’s population, as 5G cements its position as the world’s fastest deployed mobile technology generation to date.

To meet the forecast demand, as well as the performance expectations of consumers, businesses and industrial applications, sufficient quantum of spectrum must be allocated for use by mobile networks. Quality and type of spectrum is as important as quantity of spectrum to enable Mobile Network Operators to maximise the value of the spectrum and deliver the potential benefits of 5G.

AMTA has prepared a policy position paper – Spectrum for 5G and Beyond – that outlines the need for a long-term perspective on Australia’s approach to mobile spectrum policy and planning and calls on the Government to set a target of 8 GHz in total spectrum assignments for mobile by 2030 to be actioned by the Australian Communications and Media authority (ACMA).

This target is derived from analysis by Coleago in a report commissioned by AMTA as well as a review of foreign exemplar markets, outlined in our position paper.

Our 8 GHz target includes low-band spectrum (sub 1 GHz) which is critical for providing a coverage layer due to its propagation properties that enable both wide area and in-building coverage. Importantly, usable low-band spectrum is the scarcest spectrum resource. The GSM Association notes that low-band spectrum is important for bridging the digital divide between urban and regional areas by creating greater equality of broadband connectivity.

Our target also includes high-band, also known as mmWave, spectrum (24-100 GHz) which provides very high throughput over shorter distances. It is effective in addressing areas with very high traffic density and extreme peak data rates, for example, stadiums, urban public transport hubs or public squares.

Mid-band spectrum (1-7 GHz) is considered the ‘heavy-lifter’ for 5G and the position paper identifies it as a critical priority for Australian mobile network operators to deliver the requirements of 5G in our cities and regions.

Coleago applied methodology used in their Global Report to three Australian cities – Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and found that there is a need for additional mid-band spectrum in each city to achieve a city-wide 5G user experience in an economically and technically feasible manner:

  • Sydney – 757MHz
  • Melbourne – 827 MHz
  • Brisbane – 577 MHz.

Coleago also included an analysis of three small towns and found that additional spectrum for 5G FWA would deliver savings of 66% compared to Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) technology.

AMTA’s position paper also calls for a clear policy statement from the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts to provide the necessary direction to establish a consistent policy approach to guide the ACMA’s decision-making and ensure the efficient allocation of spectrum to its Highest Value Use in order to meet future demand for mobile broadband and guarantee Australia fully realises the economic and social benefits of the 5G.

Full report links:

Spectrum for 5G and Beyond AMTA policy position paper – Nov 2021

Coleago Report – Demand for mid-band spectrum in Australia

Coleago Report – Mid-band spectrum -Global outlook

Ericsson Mobility Report – Nov 2021

5G Spectrum GSMA Public Policy Position   GSMA March 2021