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Size and location of the Digital Dividend.



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Size and Location of the Digital Dividend

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced the Australian Government has decided to release 126 Megahertz of broadcasting spectrum as a digital dividend.

The decision was made following extensive public consultation through the Digital Dividend Green Paper.

This spectrum will become available as a result of the switch to digital-only television broadcasting, which will be completed in Australia by 31 December 2013.

"Once analog television signals have been completely switched off and the spectrum subsequently cleared of other users, 126MHz of spectrum will be freed-up," Senator Conroy said.

This presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve communication services available in Australia, This spectrum is known as the ‘digital dividend’."

The digital dividend will be released as a contiguous block of spectrum in the upper ultra-high frequency (UHF) band, comprising the frequency range 694 to 820 MHz inclusive.

"The Government’s decision on the size and location of the digital dividend is a crucial step in the process of releasing spectrum to enable next generation communications services," Senator Conroy said.

"This decision will allow the necessary work on digital channel planning and the auction of the spectrum to commence."

UHF spectrum currently used for broadcasting services is highly valued for delivering wireless communications services, including super-fast mobile broadband. It is able to carry signals over long distances, penetrate buildings and carry large amounts of data.

Releasing the digital dividend is an historic micro-economic reform.

"The ability to have high capacity internet access in a range of locations is proving valuable to users of 3G networks both in Australia and overseas, and demand is growing rapidly," Senator Conroy said.

Wireless broadband is an important complement to fixed line services, and the release of this spectrum will enhance and support the services that will be enabled by the Government’s investment in the National Broadband Network."

In its submission to the Digital Dividend green paper, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) indicated that Australia’s economy could be boosted by up to $10 billion if at least 120 megahertz of usable spectrum is unlocked from the digital dividend.

"A contiguous dividend of 126 MHz will deliver substantial connectivity and productivity benefits for Australia, while ensuring that the high quality free-to-air television that Australians enjoy will continue," Senator Conroy said.

The Government aims to auction the digital dividend spectrum in the second half of 2012, allowing successful bidders ample time to plan and deploy the next generation networks that are likely to utilise the spectrum.

In order to release this highly valued spectrum, broadcasting services will need to be relocated out of the digital dividend spectrum and organised more efficiently within their remaining spectrum allocation. This process is known as ‘restacking’.

"My Department, along with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, will work with broadcasters and other stakeholders to plan and implement the restack of television channels," Senator Conroy said.

The Government intends that the digital dividend spectrum be cleared as soon as possible after the switch-off of analog television services on 31 December 2013.

The digital dividend green paper and copies of submissions received can be found at: www.dbcde.gov.au/digitaldividend.

The Australian Government is committed to building the infrastructure and creating the appropriate regulatory framework that will underpin the development of the Digital Economy and bring significant social and economic benefits to all Australians.

Date: 24 June 2010 Contact: Suzie Brady 0408 258 457