Draft ministerial direction: close spectrum gap to connect suburbs


A draft ministerial direction to ACMA will allocate NBN Co the broadcast spectrum it needs to connect areas on the urban fringes with fixed wireless technology.

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Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has released a draft ministerial direction to the Australian Communications and Media Authority which would ask it to license some of the broadcast spectrum in the 3.5 GHz range to NBN Co, allowing it to connect outer suburban areas using fixed wireless technology.

Fixed wireless will allow NBN Co to connect areas on the fringes of major cities much sooner and at a lower cost to taxpayers than it could with optical fibre. The draft direction would require ACMA to complete the process by April 30, 2015, and is open for consultation until September 22.

NBN Co’s Fixed Wireless and Satellite Review, released in May, notes that:

“Although NBN Co holds 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum rights in regional areas, Optus holds the same spectrum in metro areas and the surrounding metro fringe which extends a significant distance from each city. As alternative spectrum has not been secured, NBN Co has a spectrum gap in the urban-fringe zone around Canberra and the five mainland State capital cities.”

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