Wednesday, 26 February 2020 11:35

Competition issues in 5G spectrum allocation under ACCC scrutiny Featured

By
ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes

Competition issues with the upcoming 5G spectrum allocation process are under the spotlight from Australia’s competition regulator, the ACCC, which has issued a consultation paper seeking public feedback.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been asked by the Federal Government to advise the communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, on any competition issues associated with the spectrum allocation which will impact rollout of 5G services across the Australian economy.

Australia’s auction of the 26 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum band will take place in early 2021, run by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The 26 GHz spectrum band is expected to enable the launch of a range of innovative new services using 5G technology, particularly by boosting the capability of the Internet of Things, and is regarded as a “pioneer band” for 5G in the high-band or mmWave range.

“5G spectrum will allow for technological innovation across a variety of sectors, for example in mining, agriculture and manufacturing. It could also provide many benefits to small businesses and consumers in cities and regional towns across Australia,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.

“It’s important that this spectrum is allocated in an economically efficient way, to support the deployment of cutting-edge 5G technologies. But it’s also important to promote competition among spectrum users, for the long-term benefit of businesses and consumers.”

“As we consider how this should be done, we want to hear from a range of industry and other stakeholders who have an interest in how this spectrum is allocated and used, including from organisations outside the telco sector.”

The ACCC announced on Tuesday that it is seeking views on the likely demand for the 26 GHz spectrum licences, the potential uses for the spectrum, the markets where this spectrum will be used, and any competition issues associated with how it is allocated.

In developing its advice to the Minister, the ACCC says it will take into account the Government’s Communications Policy Objectives for the allocation of the 26 GHz band and will work closely with the ACMA.

The ACCC is inviting submissions from interested parties by 27 March 2020 and the Minister has asked for the ACCC’s advice by mid-May 2020.

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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