Views of the public sought on Australian wireless spectrum
Posted in: Government & Policy at 13/01/2010 17:15
A crucial piece of wireless spectrum needed to advance the nation's mobile broadband services could soon be added to the government's "digital dividend" auction block after the communications watchdog put out a public call for how the spectrum band should be best used.
After the government's announcement last week that it would auction off a large chunk of broadcasting spectrum after the switch from analog to digital television, the Australian Communications and Media Authority issued a discussion paper yesterday to canvass public and stakeholder opinion on how best to derive value from the 2.5GHz spectrum band currently used by free-to-air television broadcasters for electronic news gathering (ENG).
To read this report in The Australian in full, see:
ACMA releases discussion paper on review of the 2.5 GHz spectrum band
The Australian Communications and Media Authority today released a discussion paper as part of its review of the pricing, planning and licensing arrangements for spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band. The 2.5 GHz band is currently used primarily by free to air TV broadcasters for electronic news gathering (ENG).
'This review has two important objectives,' said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA. 'It is intended to identify how the 2.5 GHz band should be planned and allocated so that it accords with its highest value use. Also, we need to identify suitable long-term spectrum arrangements to support the essential ENG services, especially since there has been uncertainty about the long-term spectrum arrangements for ENG services in Australia since the international identification and harmonisation of the 2.5 GHz band for wireless access services in 2000. This review is an important step in removing that uncertainty, identifying appropriate future arrangements for ENG services and moving forward.'
The 2.5 GHz band has also been identified through previous public consultation as a candidate band to address emerging demand for broadband wireless access services. Indeed, it is the primary, internationally harmonised band for these services.
The ACMA has formed the view that the current planning, licensing and pricing arrangements in the 2.5GHz band are unlikely to support its future efficient allocation and use. The ACMA therefore considers it timely to review those arrangements.
'The ACMA has developed a wide-ranging discussion paper about future options for the 2.5 GHz band and for ENG services, to give all stakeholders the opportunity to comment on technical and policy issues associated with the use of this spectrum,' Mr Chapman said. 'This discussion paper has been well informed by the ACMA's previous consultation on demand for broadband wireless access services.'
The discussion paper sets out a preliminary view that ENG services could continue to operate in a part of the 2.5 GHz band. The remainder of the band would be made available for wireless access services via spectrum licensing in major metropolitan areas and may be available for both ENG and wireless access services in other areas.
If some ENG services do move from the 2.5 GHz band, additional spectrum in other bands will be required for these services to continue to operate. The discussion paper identifies several other bands the ACMA believes might be suitable for these services. In some cases, other users may be required to relocate from these alternative bands, in which case the ACMA would work with them to identify other suitable spectrum.
'The ACMA is committed to consultation and collaboration on spectrum matters,' Mr Chapman said. 'I encourage all interested stakeholders to read this important discussion paper and consider making a submission to the ACMA.'
The discussion paper, Review of the 2.5 GHz band and long-term arrangements for ENG, is available on the ACMA website. The closing date for comment is Friday 12 March 2010.
Submissions should be sent to 2.5GHzproject@acma.gov.au, which is also the contact point for further information.
To read this news release in full with further information including a backgrounder, see: