What's Going To Happen With Australia's '5G Band'?

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The 3.6 GHz band is talked about as where our 5G network will live in the future - but it's not a done and dusted deal. There are existing services using this frequency that want to stay in business, after all.

So the Australian Communications and Media Authority is opening the doors for community and industry consultation on the band's usage.

"In line with our established mobile broadband strategy, we want to make sure Australia is well placed to take advantage of the emergence of 5G technologies both in the cities and the regions," said ACMA acting Chairman, Richard Bean.

"The ACMA acknowledges the strong interest in the 3.6 GHz band for 5G and other wide area broadband uses, while also recognising that there are existing services and licensees using these frequencies that want to continue operating."

The consultation papers identify a range of possible re-planning options for the 3.6 GHz band. They include a detailed explanation of and reasoning for the ACMA's currently preferred option to make spectrum available in metropolitan and regional areas for new services. It proposes various mitigation measures to reduce the effects of any change on incumbents in the band, including unusually lengthy adjustment periods.

"We have identified spectrum in the 5.6 GHz band that may be made available for point-to-multipoint users including Wireless ISPs to grow their businesses into the future," Richard Bean added. "We are also investigating the establishment of “Earth station protection zones” to aid ongoing long-term use of the 3.6 GHz band by satellite services."

The ACMA first released the discussion paper Future use of the 1.5 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands on 20 October 2016, which sought industry feedback on the ACMA's medium and longer-term planning approaches to address rising demand for mobile broadband services in the 1.5 and 3.6 GHz bands. 72 submissions and one supplementary submission were received in response.

Following consideration of responses, the 1.5 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands have been progressed from the initial investigation to the preliminary re-planning stage of the ACMA's spectrum management process for mobile broadband.

Given international developments and strong domestic interest, the ACMA also decided that consideration of the 3.6 GHz band should be prioritised over the 1.5 GHz band. Workout out what's happening with the 3.6 GHz band, faster, will also provide certainty to current services about long term arrangements in the band and any alternative options available to them, the ACMA says.

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