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Government prepares to auction mmWave spectrum for next wave of 5G services

Communications minister directs ACMA to begin reallocating spectrum in the 26GHz band

The federal government has formally directed the Australian Communications and Media Authority to prepare the 2.4GHz of spectrum in the 26GHz band to be auctioned off for use with 5G services.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher late last week made a declaration under the Radiocommunications Act for the ACMA to begin re-allocating spectrum in the band.

The subsequent auction will be the first opportunity for Australia’s telcos to get their hand on ‘mmWave’ spectrum for 5G.

Earlier this year the ACMA released its proposal for a hybrid-use model in the 26GHz band, which is also used by a number of satellite ground stations. The regulator’s model will see telcos gain access to a chunk of the band, while existing ground stations will continue to have access to spectrum and some spectrum will be available for private wireless networks.

Fletcher said that the spectrum allocation would support the rapid deployment of 5G and encourage investment in infrastructure in both metropolitan and regional Australia.

“Making this spectrum available means that the Australian telecommunications industry can do what it does best – provide world-class telecommunications services for consumers, small businesses and enterprises. 5G will deliver speeds significantly faster than 4G and at much lower latency,” the minister said.

The minister has written to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission seeking guidance on limits for how much individual telcos will be able to pick up in the 26GHz auction.

Both Telstra and Optus have begun offering their first wave of 5G services, using spectrum in the 3.6GHz band that was sold off last year.

The ACMA is also currently considering the future of the 28GHz band, with Telstra and Optus indicating their view is that the regulator should leave the option open for telcos to have access to additional spectrum for 5G.