Australian government details 5G strategy

The federal government will convene a working group to assess issues and opportunities for the adoption of 5G.

The federal government will convene a working group to assess issues and opportunities for the adoption of 5G.

The group, that will bring together government and industry, will help ensure that regulatory settings across a range of industries are primed for the rollout of the new mobile standard once it’s finalised by the International Telecommunication Union.

A directions paper released by the Department of Communications and the Arts outlines a four-pronged strategy to prepare Australia for the rollout of 5G.

A key part of that strategy is making 5G-friendly spectrum available in a timely manner, the paper states.

5G is expected to employ a mix of low, medium and high frequency spectrum.

“5G technologies can be expected to deliver improvements in spectral efficiency (the data rate that can be supported per unit of spectrum),” the government’s directions paper states.

“However, the use of 5G networks for applications such as widespread industrial applications is likely to require significantly more amounts of contiguous spectrum to be made available.”

The government noted that some spectrum is likely to be re-farmed by carriers from their existing holdings but a “clear, efficient and flexible regulatory framework governing spectrum access will be essential to support the timely deployment of 5G networks”.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has indicated it will push for expedited release of some of the spectrum expected to be used in 5G, saying last month it was considering accelerating release of spectrum in the 26 GHz mmWave (mmW) band.

The government is pushing a major rework of Australia’s spectrum management framework, which is says will simplify and streamline allocation and deliver flexible licensing.

Similarly, the government is pushing significant changes to the rules governing telecommunications carriers’ rollout of infrastructure. The current laws that grant carriers specific powers and immunities relating to infrastructure deployment were introduced in 1997.

The new arrangements proposed by the government will allow the efficient rollout of new communications technologies such as 5G, the directions paper states.

The government said it would also engage in the international standardisation processes relating to 5G, particularly spectrum harmonisation.

The arrival of 5G in Australia will represent “an inflection point not just for the telecoms sector but also for the entire Australian economy,” communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield said in a speech delivered in July.

“For Australia, this represents an unprecedented opportunity,” the minister said. “There’s no country I think better positioned to harness the opportunities of 5G.

“We have an effective and competitive mobile market which delivers voice and data coverage to 99.3 per cent of the population and this despite our huge landmass and extremely low population density.”

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have all carried out trials involving 5G technologies.

Last month Vodafone announced that it had conducted its first field demonstration of Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) using a Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) band.

In September Optus revealed it had staged alive trial that combined Massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) and 3CC Carrier Aggregation technologies. The telco plans to begin rolling out Massive MIMO in “selected capital cities” before the end of the year.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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