The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has taken a step towards addressing what it thinks will be a 300MHz shortfall in spectrum for mobile services by 2020, releasing a discussion paper on the usage of 1.5GHz spectrum for mobile.
In a discussion paper released last year, called "Towards 2020: Future Spectrum Requirements for Mobile Broadband", the ACMA forecasted that Australia will require an extra 300MHz of spectrum by 2020, to meet demand in the mobile space — 150MHz of which needs to be found by 2015.
The authority has made a number of suggestions for where this spectrum might come from, including the 1.5GHz spectrum band, which received stakeholder support. When it released its five-year spectrum outlook late last week, the ACMA said that it plans to conduct a review of the spectrum band
Currently, the 1.5GHZ mobile band is being used for a range of services, including defence and aeronautical services. The 1452-1492Mhz segment is used mainly for digital sound-broadcasting services, for which demand has been slow, especially in Australia.
The ACMA found that in general, the 1.5GHz band is used heavily in remote and regional areas, but only lightly in cities where demand for spectrum is highest, according to the authority, meaning that its use is ripe for reconsideration. Telstra holds over 80 per cent of the licences for the band.
In addition to considerations of use, the authority said that there have been moves on a global scale to standardise the 1.5GHz band for mobile services.
The ACMA intends to submit the bands that it considered in its "Beyond 2020" report, including the 1.5GHz spectrum, to the 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference, which wants to consider additional spectrum allocations to mobile with an international perspective.
The discussion paper (PDF) that the ACMA released today is intended to encourage ideas on whether it is suitable to use the band, and to hear from the existing users of the band on whether they expect growth or reduction in their use of the spectrum.