Optus pushes for LTE spectrum decision

 

The cost of uncertainty.

Optus has promised to keep the Australian Communications and Media Authority "on their toes" over mobile spectrum planning, particularly when it comes to 3G and LTE allocations.

Speaking at an ACMA conference today, Optus' director of government and corporate affairs Maha Krishnapillai praised advances in ACMA's approach to spectrum management.

But he believed there was still "some room for improvement, particularly with regard to the timeliness of decisions - some under its control, some not".

"Spectrum planning will continue to be a mixture of a dark art and science," Krishnapillai said.

"It is critical from an industry perspective that the ACMA fully comprehends the impact it has as spectrum manager on the structure of the industry, commercial decisions and competitive outcomes.

"As a spectrum user, we will continue to keep ACMA on their toes and seek a measure of certainty, flexibility and responsiveness to our future spectrum needs on behalf of all customers."

The re-issue of 3G spectrum licenses and spectrum decisions for Long Term Evolution (LTE) appeared high on Optus' radar as Krishnapillai warned that carrier investment plans could be impacted by lingering uncertainty.

In 2001, 15-year licenses in the 2 GHz band (allocated for 3G mobile services) were auctioned off to several mobile carriers, earning the Federal Government some $1.16 billion.

These licenses do not expire until October 2017 but the Government sought industry advice last year on just how it should approach the expiry period.

Next-generation LTE will require spectrum allocation in the 2.5 GHz and/or 700 MHz bands. Optus is trialling LTE as part of a wider test by parent SingTel.

"When spectrum is scarce, when there is uncertainty over the reissue price of incumbent licenses and the prospect of the release of new mobile broadband spectrum holdings, investment planning processes go on hold," Krishnapillai warned.

"This inevitably leads to a delay in next generation network deployment and the associated flow-on benefits to consumers.

"From an industry perspective, I cannot underestimate the importance of the timely finalisation of policy decisions and licensing regimes that take into account and align with commercial and technological roadmaps."

He continued: "We do not have visibility into these processes at present.

"One of the key examples is the reallocation of the 2.5 GHz band. From a mobile industry perspective this has taken too long to resolve.

"We encourage ACMA to commit to progress to an outcome as a matter of priority."


Optus pushes for LTE spectrum decision
 
 
 
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