Mobile industry urges certainty on key spectrum management decisions

The Australian mobile telecommunications industry today called on the Australian Government to reduce commercial uncertainty and support the reissue of incumbent spectrum licences so industry can plan its ongoing investments in advanced mobile technologies that will be fundamental to the growth of Australia’s digital economy.

AMTA Chief Executive, Chris Althaus, in a submission to the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s “Five Year Spectrum Outlook”, said the Government had an opportunity to maintain the community benefits derived from the industry’s investments in existing mobile networks as well as create the incentives for future investment.

He said voice and broadband services delivered by mobile networks were major drivers of productivity and growth in the Australian economy. It was critical for network owners to have sufficient lead time to secure the capital for investment in the spectrum used to deliver existing services and plan for the introduction of advanced mobile technologies.

Mr Althaus said: “AMTA considers that the Government, by making its policy intent clear and using its existing powers under the Radiocommunications Act 1992, can expedite licence reissue processes and minimise investment uncertainty.”

He said that the economic benefits of adopting this policy approach were clear.

Mr Althaus said: “Access Economics, in its report, Australian Mobile Telecommunications Industry: Economic Significance & State of the Industry, stated that the mobile industry is an important contributor to Australia’s economic growth. Its indirect contribution ($7.7 billion) outweighs its direct contribution ($6.7 billion). The report also says the indirect benefits from mobile voice and data, as measured by impacts on GDP, are estimated to rise to $8.1 billion in 2008 and $9.3 billion in 2010.

“By 2010, it is estimated that the increased uptake of 3G and consequent increase in mobile data traffic will contribute $2.1 billion towards this figure, in additional GDP (over and above the gains from mobile voice).”

Mr Althaus said the report showed how significant the increased uptake of advanced wireless broadband services would be as a key driver of demand for spectrum as well as a key contributor to economic growth. Ensuring that adequate and appropriate spectrum was available for mobile broadband is essential for Australia’s economy and future.

Mr Althaus also said the mobile industry believed that there was real demand and a clear public interest for mobile telecommunications services to be deployed using spectrum that would become vacant after the transition from analogue to digital television was completed in 2013 (digital dividend).

Spectrum freed up as part of the digital dividend has a broad range of high-speed wireless broadband applications - for example, mobile health services, mobile education applications, field service applications and multimedia entertainment.

Mr Althaus said AMTA looked forward to further consultations with Government to ensure that Australia’s future economic prosperity was enhanced by access to adequate and appropriate spectrum to deliver a broad range of advanced wireless broadband services that will be at the heart of the digital economy.

For more information contact Randal Markey, Manager, Communications, (02) 62396555 or 0421 240 550