Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has this morning issued a draft directions paper outlining the use of the 3.5 GHz band to fill a “spectrum gap” for NBN fixed wireless services around major capital cities.
In April, the federal government claimed while the NBN Co does own the spectrum to deliver fixed wireless services in rural areas, it does not own the spectrum in outer-metropolitan areas. Around 80,000 properties fall within the gap.
“It is considered that if these areas were to be served with fixed line technology (for example, due to ongoing lack of spectrum), the premises would likely be delayed access to fast broadband until late in the fixed line rollout, with substantially increased deployment costs to NBN Co,” said the government in the report.
The draft directions paper requires the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to work with the NBN Co to obtain the necessary spectrum, with a deadline of April 30, 2015 to organise the licence.
The NBN Co will pay commercial rates for any spectrum it uses through the arrangement. The draft paper noted former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy considered $0.03/MHz/population of a licence area being the value of licences.
Alongside the draft paper, there is a consultation process open for public submissions until September 22, 2014.