Draft Ministerial Policy Statement for expiring spectrum licences

Dept of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Consultation is now open on a draft Ministerial Policy Statement (MPS) that will provide guidance to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) as it manages its processes for spectrum licences due to expire between 2028-2032.

Spectrum is a critical and finite resource, and decisions about the future use of spectrum included in the expiring licence process will have long term impacts for the Australian communications sector.

These expiring spectrum licences (ESLs) span a number of frequency bands and are used for a diverse range of applications, including mobile and fixed wireless broadband, rail safety and communications and electronic news gathering.

The draft MPS is specifically targeted to the spectrum currently used for mobile and fixed wireless broadband. While the MPS is not intended to apply to spectrum licences currently being used for broadcast services and rail safety and communications, these licences would still be subject to ACMA’s comprehensive process and public interest criteria.

Consultation on the MPS will occur in parallel with the ACMA’s Stage 2 information gathering exercise and consultation on the current and future use of the frequency bands covered by the ESLs that are likely to promote the long-term public interest. This timing is intended to enable stakeholders to take into consideration the policy objectives of the Government when responding to ACMA’s Stage 2 process.

The MPS is one of a number of mechanisms available to shape the considerations of the ACMA in relation to expiring spectrum licenses. Further MPSs or Ministerial Directions powers may be considered throughout the current consultation processes leading up to the first expiry dates in 2028.

The draft MPS sets out five key communications policy objectives that the ACMA must have regard to in designing and enacting its process to manage the ESLs, including:

  • supporting service continuity for consumers, particularly where no alternative service is available;
  • facilitating opportunities for new entrants and use cases, including for low earth orbit satellites;
  • connectivity and investment in regional areas to deliver improved services to consumers;
  • promote competition; and
  • capacity for sustained investment and innovation

Public consultation will end at 5pm on 10 April 2024.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:

“Given the Expiring Spectrum Licence process will play a significant role in shaping Australia’s future communication landscape, it is important to get the settings right.

“Spectrum is vital to how we communicate in a digital society and economy.

“I encourage stakeholders to have their say on the drafted Ministerial Policy Statement, which will provide policy guidance the regulator as it works through its ESL process.”

/Public Release. View in full here.