The government of Australia announced allocation limits for the country’s next 5G spectrum auction, which is scheduled to occur in March 2021.
In a release, the government said that the 26 GHz auction will be the first time high-band 5G spectrum will be made available in Australia.
The 26 GHz spectrum will complement the 3.6 GHz spectrum which Australia’s mobile operators are already using to deploy 5G services across the country.
Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said 5G mobile technology will be vital for such applications as robotics, automated vehicles, advanced manufacturing and the remote operation of heavy vehicles and equipment in resources and construction. It will also support the use of sensor technology which has many important applications, such as networks of soil moisture monitors on farms to allow improved yields while using less water, he added.
“Australia has been among the world leaders in rolling out 5G networks. To maintain our position we need to make the necessary spectrum available as quickly as possible,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher also confirmed that he has directed the Australian Communications and Media Authority to set allocation limits of 1 gigahertz for this spectrum auction. “Success in the mobile market ultimately depends on access to spectrum. Applying allocation limits means that the 26 GHz spectrum cannot be monopolized by any one operator,” he said.
In addition to the auction of spectrum licenses in the 26 GHz band, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has developed apparatus and class licensing frameworks across the 26 GHz and 28 GHz millimeter wave frequencies that will support an innovative range of uses, including in fixed wireless and enterprise services.
Australian carriers had already launched 5G technology via spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band. Telstra expects its 5G network to cover 75% of the country’s population by June 2021, the company’s CEO Andrew Penn, recently said in a blog post.
Penn noted that Telstra’s 5G network, which was initially launched in May 2019, already covers around one-third of the population.
The telco is already offering commercial 5G services in 53 cities and regional towns across the country.
Some of the cities in which Telstra offers its 5G service are Canberra, Central Coast, Brisbane, Sidney, Cairns, Gold Coast, Adelaide, Hamilton, Melbourne and Perth.
Rival operator Optus launched commercial mobile 5G operations in 2019. Optus previously announced it is testing 5G mmWave technology in partnership with Swedish vendor Ericsson.
Optus noted that mmWave technology will enable higher speed and reduced latency for its customers, especially in highly dense areas with large demand for the Optus mobile network.
Optus has approval from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to operate and test mmWave technology using the 26 GHz band at four locations in Sydney, including its Macquarie Park headquarters.
In January, Optus had successfully implemented spectrum sharing technology from Ericsson to made an end-to-end 5G video test call while simultaneously streaming video content on a 4G device.
In addition, Optus had previously announced the general availability of its 5G Home fixed wireless service across the 138,000 home footprint covered by its 5G network.
Vodafone Hutchison Australia is still in the process of deploying its 5G network.