Spectrum outlook – What is needed?
Spectrum needed to meet growing demand for mobile
Australia’s economy is certainly feeling the impact of the restrictions put in place to manage the ongoing health crisis caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
Mobile telecommunications, however, remains an enabling technology and connectivity has proven critical to the ability of many businesses and industries to remain operating throughout the pandemic. It is clear that the demand for connectivity, particularly mobile connectivity, will not decline, but continue to grow.
As this strong demand for mobile services continues, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA ) supports a continued and expeditious allocation of spectrum for 5G to ensure that the ongoing demand for all types of services can be met and Australia remains at the forefront of the 5G rollout. 5G will enable transformative social and economic benefits across many industries, including transport and logistics, health, education and the automotive industry, as well as consumer benefits. In the context of our current economic climate, we believe that 5G can provide the requisite connectivity to provide the foundation for Industry 4.0.
AMTA acknowledge the Government’s plans to pursue amendments to the Radiocommunications Act 1992 as part of a reform agenda. It is critical that we have a fit for purpose regulatory framework to support the deployment of 5G so that the enabling benefits of the next generation of mobile technology are fully realised across the economy.
As a strong advocate for reform of Australia’s spectrum management framework, AMTA believes the proposed reforms have the potential to improve the timely and efficient allocation of spectrum for 5G by introducing more flexibility and certainty for spectrum licence holders. Transparency of the reform agenda through close engagement with stakeholders will provide the requisite certainty for continued investment to occur.
Five year spectrum outlook- 2020-24
Australian mobile network operators are initially utilising spectrum in the bands below 6 GHz as well as additional spectrum in the mmWave bands in the 26-28 GHz range for the deployment of 5G services.
Industry supports market-based allocation methods for the efficient allocation of spectrum that ensures spectrum moves to its highest value use. The pending auction of 26 GHz spectrum will further supply the additional spectrum that 5G networks require to deliver ultra-high-speed capacity, however, further work is needed in relation to existing bands to enable the deployment of 5G services. This work needs to include the efficient reallocation of low band spectrum, for example, 900 MHz spectrum and the 850 MHz expansion band.
AMTA estimates that each mobile operator will initially require additional low band spectrum and around 100 MHz of contiguous mid band spectrum as well as up to 1GHz of mmWave spectrum for 5G to reach its full potential and deliver on what it is designed to do. It is important that the spectrum allocations in Australia are aligned with the global standards and this estimate is consistent with the GSM Association (GSMA) analysis of spectrum requirements for 5G which state that operators will each need 80-100MHz of contiguous mid-band spectrum as well as 1 GHz of high-band allocation. The GMSA also notes that 5G needs spectrum allocated across low, mid and high ranges as each of these will be needed to support widespread coverage and all use cases for 5G.
AMTA support increased focus on the timely reallocation of low band spectrum to enable the deployment of national 5G networks, especially in regional areas. We note the potential for use of spectrum in the 600 MHz band in the medium term. Additionally, we support the current work to optimise the 3.4 GHz band and the progression of planning work in relation to the 3.8 GHz (3700-4200 MHz) band.