CommsDay Unwired Conference
Kirribilli Club Sydney
Thursday 20 July 2017, 9.20 am
E & OE
morning, it’s great to be here and thank you Grahame (Lynch, CommsDay
Publisher) and Petroc (Wilton, Group Editorial Director, Decisive Publishing)
for inviting me to speak.
Revolution” is a fitting name for today’s conference, because I believe that
the imminent arrival of 5G mobile technology will be a truly revolutionary
event in the telecommunications industry. In fact, the arrival of 5G may well
be an inflection point not just for the telecoms sector, but for the entire
I’d like to speak on three key points.
why 5G will provide this inflection point, and why it provides a great
opportunity for Australia; second, what the Government is doing to ensure that
the promise of 5G can become reality; and finally, I’ll outline what’s coming
next as both Government and industry prepares for the arrival of 5G.
me begin by describing why I see 5G as such a revolutionary change.
Particularly when mobile communications already plays such an important role in
Australian society. 2017 marks 30 years since the first AMPS (Advanced
Mobile Phone System) mobile phone call was made in Australia in February 1987.
2017 also marks the 25th anniversary of Australia’s spectrum management
framework, introduced in 1992. That was around the same time that the first 2G
GSM networks went live in Australia. I had some personal experience with
the mobile phones of that era. In 1990 I was working as an adviser to a state
government Minister and I had the sought-after job of carrying the Minister’s
mobile phone. Which came complete with a shoulder-strap and a battery about the
size of a briefcase. We’ve come a long way since then.
we saw the launch of 3G services. And in late 2011 the first 4G networks become
operational in Australia. But while we have seen some incredible technological
progress from AMPS to 2G, 3G and 4G, these three decades-worth of changes could
be described as more evolutionary than revolutionary.
appears poised to be that revolutionary change, as a combination of extremely
low-latency and high-bandwidth applications takes the burgeoning ‘internet of
things’ to a new level. And for Australia, this represents an unprecedented
opportunity. There is no country better positioned to harness the opportunities
of 5G. Australia has an effective and competitive mobile market which delivers
voice and data coverage to 99.3 per cent of the population. And this is despite
our huge landmass and extremely low population density. This has been achieved
with comparatively little government intervention – particularly in contrast to
Australia’s fixed-line telecommunications market.
recent announcement that it plans on becoming Australia’s fourth mobile carrier
shows that Australia will continue to benefit from a fiercely competitive
mobile market. According to the latest Akamai speed index report,
Australia has the highest average mobile connection speed in the Asia Pacific
region at 15.7 Mbps . Even countries with far smaller
territory to cover and higher population densities cannot match Australia's
mobile performance. Japan comes in at second place with an average of 15.6
Mbps. New Zealand is not far behind, averaging 13.0 Mbps.
reports that there are currently 32 million mobile voice and data services
operating in Australia (phones and data dongles). Meanwhile,
ABS data reveals that in the three months to December 2016, 146,050 Terabytes
of data was downloaded over mobile networks.
the fact that this is still a very small proportion compared to fixed-line
downloads, it still represents significant growth. More than 20 per cent from
the previous quarter, and a 61 per cent increase from the previous year. And not only are Australians benefitting from
competition delivering wide coverage and fast speeds, but also affordable
this month, I announced findings from the Bureau of Communications and Arts
Research that found while data downloads are growing, real consumer prices for
mobile services are falling. It also found that Australia is competitive at an
international level when it comes to affordability. These indicators all point
to Australia having a very strong investment environment for mobile networks,
delivering positive outcomes for consumers.
5G, a significant change is coming that will impact government, consumers, the
telecoms industry, and the broader economy. It will allow for new services that
will benefit all Australians, in fields such as health, education, automotive
and agriculture. The technology also holds enormous scope for emergency
services systems, which could benefit from greater mobile capabilities when it
comes to responding to natural disasters.
also foster greater uptake of Internet of Things applications thanks to lower
latencies and greater bandwidths, and help us build the smart homes and cities
of the future, which will in turn lead to the emergence of new businesses,
services and jobs. With the number of connected ‘things’ expected to reach 20.8
billion worldwide by 2020, this could provide the spark for new
hi-tech manufacturing businesses in Australia.
by McKinsey estimates that by 2025, the Internet of Things will pump up to $2.3
trillion into the global economy each year in manufacturing alone.
Realising the full range of social and economic benefits of 5G for Australia
will only be possible through the sector taking a leading role. The
standardisation process for 5G is well underway through the International
Telecommunication Union, with final standards due by 2020.
past, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region have been influential in
contributing to standards and spectrum plans that have been adopted across the
board. This has meant that we’ve not only been able to adopt new technologies
quickly, but also that we’ve been able to take advantage of the economies of
scale that come from every major manufacturer producing equipment suited to the
Australian market. We need a similar long term vision for 5G – and we need the
communications sector to provide the practical, technical expertise that will
help in Australia’s advocacy for an internationally-harmonised approach.
brings me to my second point - what the Government is doing to ensure that the
promise of 5G can become reality. We are working hard to modernise the
policy and legislative framework which will support the early uptake of 5G in
Australia. The Government should ensure that there are no unnecessary
roadblocks for carriers seeking to deploy 5G networks; and to create a policy
and regulatory environment that ensures that our competitive mobile market
continues to flourish.
of Government responsibility which will be key to the success of 5G is spectrum
reform. Spectrum is a critical enabler of Australia’s current and future
communications infrastructure. The Government is committed to reform to ensure
that the regulatory framework governing access to spectrum remains
In May I
announced a consultation package on reforms to modernise and simplify
Australia’s spectrum management framework. The package includes an exposure
draft of the new Radiocommunications Bill, and a set of consultation papers on
the proposed new framework. The reforms will simplify and streamline the
processes for spectrum allocation and provide a transparent, efficient and
flexible spectrum management framework. The draft legislation removes the
existing barriers between licence types, and enables flexible licensing issue
and allocation processes. This enables the ACMA to proactively respond to
market demands and new technologies, such as 5G, by removing overly cumbersome
and bureaucratic processes and allowing the market to work. This is the most
significant change to the Australian spectrum management framework in the last
is this type of long-term reform that will help Australia remain
internationally competitive with a modern, innovative economy over the coming
decades. The consultation period on the exposure draft has been extended until
28 July. Your feedback is vital in ensuring that the final Bill and
reforms are co-designed with industry. To ensure the reforms hit the mark for
Australia’s future spectrum management, there will be a second exposure draft
released for consultation later this year.
there is more on the Government’s agenda than just spectrum reform, substantial
as it is. 5G will require a radical change to the way mobile networks are
designed and deployed if they are to deliver revolutionary new services. 5G
will require additional infrastructure in new forms, including smaller cells
and more densely-located antennas, which could be placed on lamp-posts or
this in mind, I announced in June that the Government would undertake public
consultation on telecommunications carrier powers and immunities. Today,
carriers have some powers and immunities to enter land to inspect it, and to
install and maintain certain types of facilities. This typically refers to
‘low-impact facilities’, which includes pillars, antennas and cabling. These
laws help carriers roll out telecommunications infrastructure quickly,
efficiently and in a nationally-uniform way, rather than having to adhere to a
range of disparate state, territory and local government requirements. These
laws have existed in their current form since 1997. But we need to take into
account changes in technology and operating practices to ensure that the laws
remain relevant in the rapidly evolving communications sector.
proposed reforms, 24 in total, are wide-ranging. Amongst other things, they
cover new technologies and deployment practices, streamline notification and
objection processes, and clarify the implications of council heritage overlays.
to these regulations, if adopted, could benefit the rollout of 5G in years to
come. The proposed changes would help mobile carriers roll out new
communications technologies faster and at a lower cost, with savings estimated
by AMTA to be at least $100 million per annum.
rollout of 5G expected to see the deployment of much more mobile network
equipment than we have today, it will be important to strike the right balance
between the needs of infrastructure providers and local communities. Carrier
powers and immunities are powerful tools and carriers nevertheless need to
exercise them with due regard to community sensitivities and exercise their
to this consultation process are due by 21 July – tomorrow. The Government will
make a final decision following careful consideration of all issues raised.
along with the Government’s work on reforms to the spectrum framework and
carrier powers and immunities, the ACMA is already hard at work on making
spectrum available for 5G. While I’m sure that acting ACMA Chair Richard Bean
will provide much more detail in his speech later this morning, it’s worth
providing a brief overview of the work already underway.
June the ACMA released its consultation package for the future use of the 3.6
GHz band in Australia. This consultation paper follows on from
the discussion paper Future use of the 1.5 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands
released in October 2016, and takes into consideration responses to that paper.
The ACMA has decided to progress the 1.5 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands from the
‘initial investigation’ to the ‘preliminary replanning’ stage of its process
for considering additional spectrum for mobile broadband services. The ACMA has
also decided to prioritise re-farming of the 3.6 GHz band over the 1.5 GHz
band, arguing that this approach would be less disruptive to those already
using the spectrum, and would follow international trends that have set the 3.6
GHz band as a ‘pioneer band’ for 5G. Although there was strong interest from
industry in using the 3.6 GHz band for wide-area mobile and fixed wireless
broadband networks, current users of the spectrum were firmly against the
proposal. Satellite earth stations and wireless internet service providers
would be affected by the relocation of the spectrum. The ACMA has said that
satellite earth station ‘protection zones’ could potentially be established to
allow satellite services to continue using the 3.6 GHz spectrum, and spectrum
in the 5.6 GHz band could be
available for wireless service providers. The ACMA is working as quickly as it
can to bring the 3.6 GHz spectrum to auction in 2018.
having described the potential for 5G and outlined what the Government is
doing, I’d like to briefly look at what’s coming next. 5G is already gaining
the attention of a range of portfolios across Government. For instance, the
COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council has already commenced work on the
deployment of automated vehicles, and 5G will play an important role this
area. 5G will also play a key role in the deployment of ‘smart’ infrastructure
in our cities and suburbs. Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital
Transformation Angus Taylor has announced $50 million in funding for the Smart
Cities and Suburbs Program. The program drew inspiration from global examples
of connected infrastructure, such as Dublin’s citywide network of traffic
sensors, and Chicago’s ‘Array of Things’ network of 500 sensors which provide
block-by-block data on air quality, noise levels and traffic flow.
is not just about cities – the technology is also going to be a game-changer
for rural and regional Australia. Minister for Regional Communications Fiona
Nash is a huge advocate for innovation in smart agriculture. Hi-tech farms use
mobile networks to open farm gates, remotely activate water and feeding systems,
and control autonomous machinery. The arrival of 5G will provide a further
boost for these kinds of applications.
Industry, Innovation and Science portfolio, Arthur Sinodinos has described how
mobile-enabled sensor networks have attracted international investment.
Tasmanian agricultural technology business ‘The Yield’ attracted a $2.5 million
investment from Bosch Group for its real-time sensor network technology, which
has seen tech-savvy farmers reduce water costs by 25 per cent and chemical use
by as much as 50 per cent. And we all know that there are many more examples
like this, where smart Australian businesses are making the most of mobile
Department will work closely with industry, key experts and other Commonwealth
departments to best inform government decisions in this important field. I want
to ensure that 5G is a success so that all areas of the economy will benefit.
conclude, it’s been a pleasure to be here today and I want to thank you once
again for the invitation. We are on the cusp of a digital revolution and it’s
vital that government, industry and community stakeholders work together to
ensure that we make the most of this opportunity. I look forward to working
with you so that we can see the promise of 5G become reality.
]7[ Department of Infrastructure and
Regional Development, ‘Preparing for automated vehicles.’