- The ACCC has recently launched a public consultation to confirm allocation limits for 3.4-4GHz spectrum distribution in remote areas.
- The allocation could impact several downstream markets due to the potential demand for the spectrum from a range of users.
- To determine if allocation limits are sufficient, the ACCC seeks to assess the current and projected demand for spectrum across remote areas.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recently launched a public consultation to confirm allocation limits for 3.4-4GHz spectrum distribution in remote areas.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority sought advice on the allocation limits for area-wide apparatus licenses in the band. The ACCC wants to assess whether allocation limits are necessary to mitigate risks to competition at a local level.
On the other hand, ACMA plans to make spectrum in the band available for a wide range of uses. This includes providing wide-area and local-area wireless broadband as well as private 4G and 5G networks.
The regulators plan to allot 600MHz of the spectrum between 3.4-4GHz in remote areas for apparatus licensing. An additional 200MHz in the 3.8-4GHz band will also be allotted for wider apparatus licensing. 100MHz in the 3.7-3.8GHz range for spectrum will be allocated to both metro and regional areas.
According to ACCC submission, the ACMA has yet to determine the administrative process for issuing licences in remote areas. However, they are considering a ‘first in time’ format where licenses are issued to the first compliant application. They are also considering using an application window at the start of the process where applications are accepted for a fixed period and then assessed for overlaps in the same area and frequency range.
ACCC also said that the allocation could impact several downstream markets due to the potential demand for the spectrum from a range of users. For example, these users may seek to use the spectrum for public or private network deployments.
Access to spectrum could provide operators with the additional mid-band spectrum for 5G rollouts or existing 4G services. In addition, spectrum limits could encourage competition in remote areas, the submission states. However, to which extent the allocation could impact competition is still uncertain as service providers interests’ may be confined to more populated areas.
Also, the demand is unlikely uniformed across remote areas. This means that allocation limits may only be appropriate in areas where demand for spectrum exceeds the available supply. In addition, statutory allocation limits have not previously been used for administrative allocations of the spectrum and are reserved for auctions.
To determine if allocation limits are sufficient, the ACCC seeks to assess the current and projected demand for spectrum across remote areas. The ACCC will accept submissions for the consultation until 24 September. ACMA has requested for the ACCC to provide its final advice by 29 October.