Australia's love of mobile internet will increase 1000 times from 2007 to 2020, forcing providers to find an extra 300MHz of spectrum in order to cope with the growing demand in the next nine years, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has warned.
In the final version of a discussion paper "Towards 2020: Future Spectrum Requirements for Mobile Broadband", ACMA has forecast that Australia will already require a total of 930MHz of spectrum in 2015.
Taking into account the total available spectrum (380MHz) plus the 2.3GHz spectrum band and the additional spectrum that will come into play as a result of the 2014 digital dividend auction of the 700MHz and 2.5GHz spectrum bands, there will be a total of 800MHz available for mobile broadband in 2015.
This would lead to a shortfall in around 130MHz to 150MHz, ACMA said, and the authority has identified bands in the 900MHz spectrum that could potentially be re-farmed to fill this gap in a second paper released by ACMA.
ACMA has predicted that the peak demand for spectrum will be 1172MHz by 2018, and will drop to 1082MHz in 2020. The drop will be due to telcos switching from 2G and 3G services exclusively to long term evolution (LTE) and other technologies that use spectrum more efficiently, as well as a rise in customers offloading their mobile data back onto fixed-line services such as home Wi-Fi networks, according to ACMA.
Despite the fall from peak, ACMA estimates that by this time a further 150MHz of spectrum will be required to handle all of this data.
The discussion paper outlines further spectrum that it will potentially review to fill this gap, noting that some of the 150MHz spectrum required will have to come from the 3.7GHz and 4.2GHz spectrum bands. ACMA told ZDNet Australia that it expected that it will be required to balance the demand from mobile vendors with the needs of the C-Band satellite operators currently using this spectrum.
ACMA is accepting submissions on the paper until 1 July, while submissions on the 900MHz discussion paper are due by 24 June.