• PPDR spectrum at 4.9GHz at risk 

    Posted on: 4th May, 2019

    When the ACMA announced the allocation of the 2 x 5MHz of 800MHz spectrum for PSMB use, there was also an announcement of a further 2 x 45MHz of spectrum at 4.9GHz being allocated to Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) use. The original concept was that this higher frequency spectrum would be used for local Wi-Fi type systems at major incidents to improve efficiency of operations. As technology advances over time, this spectrum could be utilised for local LTE networks for incident management. This frequency allocation is common throughout much of the world, particularly the Americas and throughout Asia.

    Every four years the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) holds a World Radio Conference (WRC) to discuss and plan for commonality of spectrum allocations within each of the three spectrum zones: Australia and Asia (Zone 3), the Americas (Zone 2), and Europe and Africa (Zone 1). At the next WRC, there is a request from the Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s) for the PPDR 4.9GHz spectrum to be made available for shared use by the MNO’s for 5G implementation. As the Australian delegate to WRC, the ACMA will discuss and vote on this.

    ARCIA believes there should be no changes to the present allocations, as the full benefits of the PSMB systems are not yet well understood by many public safety agencies or Governments. We believe that it will be several years before there is any form of wide-area fully operational PSMB in Australia, and it will take time for agencies and first responders to begin to develop their own operating systems. Only after that will the expansion plans for 4.9GHz start to open; we must strive to ensure the spectrum isn’t stolen away ahead of that time.

    In response to this discussion paper, ARCIA will be sharing our perspective, however, it may be time for our Governments and Public Safety Agencies to also respond, and highlight the need for time to develop use cases for this spectrum. It is not as though there is a shortage of spectrum for 5G installations, the MNO’s just want the best bits that they can get.

    The Draft Five Year Spectrum Outlook 2019-2023 by ACMA can be found at: https://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/draft-five-year-spectrum-outlook-2019-23

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