Billions lost if spectrum decision delayed

It will cost the mobile industry billions of potential dollars if the Federal Government doesn't make a decision on new spectrum allocation this year, according to a report by the mobile industry.

It will cost the mobile industry billions of potential dollars if the Federal Government doesn't make a decision on new spectrum allocation this year, according to a report by the mobile industry.

"[A year's delay] has the effect of reducing the productivity benefit for mobile broadband by $5.5 billion over the period 2013 to 2020, and for LTE by nearly $17 billion," the report said, written by Network Strategies.

The Federal Government is expected to auction spectrum in the 700MHz band, suitable for Long Term Evolution (LTE), once the switchover from analog to digital TV frees that spectrum up. The switchover is scheduled for 2013.

Spectrum in the 2.5GHz range, used by television newsrooms for news gathering, is also due to be re-allocated, but Senator Conroy is yet to set a date for both sales.

"If we're talking about 2.5GHz, well the government really needs to get moving now to decide on a band plan and start the processes of vacating that spectrum so that come early 2013 it's available," AMTA CEO Chris Althaus said. "All of the planning and the technical development ... needs to start to happen in the next year or so if we're going to meet these deadlines."

The mobile industry requires new spectrum because mobile networks are facing capacity constraints due to the growing demand for mobile data, he said.

Mobile operators, according to Althaus, will need a lead time of at least two years to deploy next-generation networks on the new spectrum before they are able to turn them on.

Althaus said that until the industry knows how much spectrum is going to be available, none of the mobile industry's work could begin.

Senator Conroy has stated he would announce more details on the sale "soon".

The pressure follows Optus' government and corporate affairs director Maha Krishnapillai criticising the communications authority, ACMA, for taking "far too long" on spectrum decisions.

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