Home Telecoms & NBN ACMA: 5G spectrum planning pushes forward with mmWave progress

ACMA: 5G spectrum planning pushes forward with mmWave progress

Millimetre wave spectrum for 5G broadband is the subject of the ACMA’s consultation paper, released today, with invitation for comments open and the deadline 13 October.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has used its recent ACMA spectrum tune-up to “propose an accelerated process for considering releases in the millimetre wave spectrum for 5G broadband, with a consultation paper on the topic released today".

Acting ACMA chairman Richard Bean said: “Australia has a strong track record of timely review of spectrum arrangements in support of innovation in the communications industry.

“5G in the millimetre wave bands presents a great opportunity to maintain this record so the Australian community will continue to enjoy the benefits of early uptake of new technology.”

Industry and ACMA experts at the tune-up heard that “technology standardisation and international spectrum harmonisation were progressing rapidly, with the very real possibility that 5G broadband could be using these higher frequency bands before the end of the decade".

As you’d expect, the ACMA “now invites comments on the questions listed in the consultation document Spectrum for broadband in the millimetre wave bands https://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/spectrum-for-broadband-in-mmwave-bands or any other relevant issues – in particular on whether spectrum in the 26 GHz mmWave band (24.25-27.5 GHz) is a candidate for accelerated consideration for 5G broadband purposes".

The deadline for comments is Friday, 13 October – clearly the ACMA is not superstitious, but presumably a lot more excited about truly getting the 5G spectrum ball rolling a lot faster, at long last. 

Here’s the ACMA’s backgrounder on the topic:

“The ACMA’s Five year spectrum outlook 2016–20 (FYSO), released in October 2016, sought feedback on a number of issues surrounding mobile broadband use of bands above 24.25 GHz—referred to as mmWave bands. The mmWave bands are a new frontier for mobile broadband and have been earmarked internationally as pioneer bands for 5G.

“The FYSO also included the ACMA’s work program for mobile broadband spectrum planning projects. The program outlined where each project is positioned within the overall process (the stages) and identified those frequency bands that are at the monitoring stage. A number of mmWave bands were included in the monitoring stage.

“To further progress consideration of the mmWave bands, the ACMA hosted a spectrum tune-up on 5 September, which included speakers from the ACMA and industry. The tune-up gave stakeholders the opportunity to provide further views and feedback on the use of various mmWave bands that are under consideration for possible use by broadband services. To complement the contributions received during the tune-up, the ACMA is providing this opportunity for formal submissions on the issues raised for discussion at the event.

“Given the increasing interest in mmWave spectrum for 5G use both domestically and internationally, coupled with relatively limited incumbency issues in several of the bands in question, the ACMA has proposed to use the spectrum tune-up, along with this consultation process, to assist in streamlining the early consideration of the 24.25–27.5 GHz band (the 26 GHz mmWave band) and, if supported by submissions, potentially other mmWave bands.

“Specifically, the ACMA is proposing to use feedback obtained from the FYSO during the tune-up, and this consultation process, as part of its initial investigation of the 26 GHz mmWave band, and if appropriate, other mmWave bands. This will inform a decision on whether to progress consideration of one or more mmWave bands to the preliminary re-planning phase of the ACMA’s mobile broadband strategy.

“If a decision is made to progress one or more mmWave bands to this next phase, the ACMA will release a consultation paper discussing possible options for the bands identified. In the case of the 26 GHz mmWave band, unless there are significant reasons advanced to the contrary, the ACMA will use the information garnered from this process and develop an options paper for release in the first quarter of 2018.”

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.