The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) has been monitoring trends in mobile broadband, potential spectrum availability and the impact on spectrum demand.
Our May 2011 discussion paper, Towards 2020—Future spectrum requirements for mobile broadband, identified the need for a strategy to manage the expected spectrum requirements of mobile broadband services.
In Towards 2020, the ACMA estimated that an additional 300 MHz of spectrum is required for mobile broadband services to support predicted growth out to 2020, with up to 150 MHz of this total expected to be required by 2015. In addition to this identified shortfall of spectrum, a number of candidate bands were identified that could potentially be designated for mobile broadband services in the short to medium term to meet this requirement.
The 1.5 GHz mobile band (1427.9– 1510.9 MHz) was identified as one such band. While a broad strategy to address the issue of spectrum for mobile broadband services is still being developed, the ACMA has decided to explore more immediately the issues associated with the potential future use of the 1.5 GHz mobile band for mobile broadband services in Australia. This band is an ideal candidate to advance the narrative started in Towards 2020 for a number of reasons, including:
> the relatively low level of existing services in the 1.5 GHz mobile band compared to other bands identified in Towards 2020
> the broad stakeholder support for investigating the potential use of the 1.5 GHz mobile band for mobile broadband services in submissions received to Towards 2020
> nascent moves to standardise the 1.5 GHz mobile band internationally for mobile broadband services
> the emergence of WRC-15 Agenda item 1.1 on additional spectrum for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) and the need for Australia to domestically explore the feasibility of potential candidate bands for consideration under this Agenda item
> the fact that the 1.5 GHz mobile band is relatively self-contained and can be reviewed independently. This discussion paper is intended to gather information and industry views on the suitability of options for the potential replanning of the 1.5 GHz mobile band for mobile broadband.
The paper also seeks to gather information on the current and future use of the band by existing users and the impact on these users of any allocation for mobile broadband services.