The Australian government announced it is investing almost AUD30 million ($21.2 million) to improve the allocation and management of spectrum and trial 5G use across different industry sectors.
This investment is part of the government’s Job Maker Digital Business Plan, which aims to accelerate the digital transformation of Australian businesses and create jobs.
As part of this strategy, the government will establish the Australian 5G Innovation Initiative, to invest in 5G commercial trials and testbeds in key industry sectors such as agriculture, mining, logistics and manufacturing.
“5G will support a range of industrial, agricultural and commercial outcomes with significant benefits,” sadi Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said. “The government’s AUD22.1 million Australian 5G Innovation Initiative will demonstrate the productivity boosting applications of 5G.”
The Initiative will be an open and competitive grants program, with two rounds of funding over three years to support private sector investment in 5G testbeds and trials. Consultations on the scope and grant guidelines will occur before the end of 2020, and the initial grant round is expected to open in the first quarter of 2021.
Under the Australian 5G Innovation Initiative, firms which receive grants will develop and test 5G applications, services and products to demonstrate the commercial incentive for businesses to adopt 5G solutions. The initiative will assist businesses, including small-to-medium enterprises, in demonstrating the wide range of commercial and industrial uses of 5G, which are expected to include applications such as smart factories and warehouses, logistics management and autonomous vehicles.
This initiative will assist businesses, including small to medium enterprises, to test and develop 5G applications, services and products, according to the government. Recipients will pilot ways of addressing technical challenges to help create the commercial incentive for businesses to adopt 5G solutions and for carriers to accelerate their 5G rollouts.
The government highlighted that 5G can help smart manufacturing solutions, smart farming, telemedicine, robotics, augmented reality, and freight and logistics management solutions. The Initiative provides support to demonstrate the productivity benefits of 5G for these applications.
The Australian government is also providing AUD7.1 million to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to invest in digital auction systems that promote efficient allocation of spectrum and to create an updated and simplified digital spectrum license system.
“Spectrum is a critical component in the rollout of 5G. These investments will make the allocation of spectrum more efficient and reduce red tape, so that Australians can experience the benefits of 5G sooner,” Fletcher said.
The digital auction system is expected to improve ACMA’s ability to conduct spectrum auctions, which will bring spectrum to market sooner.