King & Wood Mallesons

Asia-Pacific 100 position: 3

Re-allocation of the C-band: satellite operators face uncertainty about the future of their spectrum

There is growing international debate about the regulation of satellite spectrum, particularly in light of the increasing demand for mobile broadband services. The 3.6–4.2GHz band of electromagnetic spectrum, known as the ‘C-band’, is central to the debate. It is currently used for satellite broadcasting communications, but mobile broadband operators are eager to use the band for their services.

Satellite service providers want the C-band maintained for their use and are reluctant to share the band. The issue will come to a head at the 2015 World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC).

The WRC is considering allocating the C-band for increasingly in-demand mobile broadband operations. Consequently regulators all over the world are considering the reallocation. In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) regulates satellite systems in accordance with regulations administered by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The ACMA is facing pressure to reallocate the C-band. The ACMA has estimated that in Australia an additional 150MHz of spectrum allocated for mobile broadband will be required by 2020, taking into account the 800MHz that has already been allocated for mobile broadband services.

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