ACMA acting chairman Richard Bean told a telecommunications conference in Sydney last week that while everyone expected 5G to supplement, and probably replace existing standards like 4G over time, it was generally accepted that standardisation and harmonisation was still at the formative stage.
"(Everyone knows) that 5G is expected to deliver what is essentially a super-fast version of today’s mobile broadband networks, massive scale machine-to-machine communications necessary to support the Internet of Things, and ultra-reliable and low latency communications to support things like remote control of industrial or medical processes," Bean said.
"There are many, though, who will argue that, for cost or other reasons, 5G will not have a monopoly on IOT-related matters in particular."
"This is an important reason why a discussion of 5G is best placed in the context of the ACMA’s wider broadband strategy and work programme, which addresses the broader spectrum environment — of which 5G is just the latest part," he said.
Richard Bean: "...standardisation and harmonisation (for 5G) still at the formative stage."
While new draft laws would not alter the basic nature of spectrum planning or remove the need for a cogent mobile broadband strategy and work programme, "it should allow us to build on our legacy of technology neutrality, permitting us to be more flexible and even more responsive to new technology disruptors".
Bean said that while it seemed likely that 5G technologies would use many frequency bands that were already in use for mobile services, there was "demonstrable interest" in the 3.6GHz band and the "very high frequency ranges referred to as the ‘millimetre wave bands’ above 24GHz".
The weightiest task before the ACMA around 5G was the ongoing review of the 3.6GHz band between 3575 and 3700 MHz, Bean said, adding that this band was currently in use by major satellite stations and point-to-point fixed broadband services.
"This kind of situation is not new and, as is appropriate in these circumstances, the ACMA is undertaking a review to determine what, if any, changes to the band are appropriate," he said.
The review began towards the end of 2016 with a discussion paper which received 72 submissions; an options paper was issued in June and submissions are due by 4 August.
Bean said the ACMA had identified a preferred way of dealing with this. As part of mitigation, there would be an extended transition period of seven years for all incumbents and site-based, co-ordinated apparatus licensing arrangements for point-to-multipoint services in the 5610–5650 MHz band.
"Thirdly, we propose the establishment of long-term planning arrangements supporting the relocation of satellite earth stations from metropolitan areas," he added.
The full speech is here.
Photos: courtesy ACMA.