Australia: Call for satellite, mobile spectrum sharing

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More flexible and innovative approaches are needed in Australia to allow 5G mobile services and satellite-based services to co-exist, according to the nation’s communications satellite sector.

The Satellite Services Working Group (SSWG) of Communications Alliance, the primary telecommunications industry body in Australia, in a Discussion Paper, calls for debate between Government, Regulators, Industry and other stakeholders on the future of satellite services in today’s increasingly spectrum-scarce environment.

Already some satellite systems and space operation facilities are unable to operate effectively in Australia because of the nature of licensing conditions here, the group warns.

The SSWG is a group of 20 companies active in the Australian satellite market, including satellite operators, service providers and ground-segment specialists.

Australia’s commercial space operations account for approximately 75 per cent of the nation’s space market – worth almost A$4 billion (€2.56bn) in 2015-16 – according to estimates published by the Federal Government’s recent review of Australian Space Industry Capability.

The Discussion Paper examines the approaches being taken in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and some regulatory regimes around the world to enable terrestrial mobile services and satellite services to share the spectrum in specified frequency bands where this is technically feasible.

It contrasts this with the ‘single service’ spectrum licensing often used in Australia, which normally precludes the co-existence of other types of services and cites examples of recent local spectrum decisions that have disadvantaged the satellite sector.

While recognising the importance of making spectrum available for mobile services, the paper sets out recommendations for the ACMA in the 40 to 42 GHz, 48.2 to 50.2GHz and 2GHz frequency bands and urges the regulator to take a ‘more holistic’ view of spectrum management, to maximise the spectrum available for all classes of services, including mobile.

The paper does not purport to represent the views of all Members of Communications Alliance, including those from Telstra as a member of the SSWG.


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