ARCIA's advocacy covers all comms sectors

Australian Radio Communications Industry Association

By Hamish Duff, President, ARCIA
Monday, 06 May, 2019



ARCIA's advocacy covers all comms sectors

It’s been a very busy start to 2019 for ARCIA and its committee members. Over two days in February the committee and partners gathered in Brisbane to discuss all things wireless. There were wide-ranging discussions on policy and the activities that ARCIA undertakes, and the event was conducted with great spirit. Each year these planning days really help to crystalise the efforts the Association undertakes, and I thank all members and partners for their tremendous support.

One key point from the planning days was expressed by a partner who was surprised by the breadth and scope of the activities that ARCIA conducts each year. This opened an excellent discussion about how ARCIA presents membership value to our community, and we all agreed we have not done enough to remind both our members and the industry in general of our efforts. You can expect to see more information and more detail on value this year; we have already started presenting it to our partners at events.

It is also important to understand that, over time, ARCIA has evolved to represent all comms users and different sectors, regardless of the technology basis for the sector. The days of LMR being an isolated industry are over and ARCIA understands that, when it comes to access to spectrum, we need to advocate for all users. As an association we have working towards protecting the spectrum and providing benefits for all users, not just our own sector.

In March I headed to the IWCE conference in Las Vegas, during which I attended the board meeting of the US Government Wireless Technology & Communications Association (GWTCA). In 2018 ARCIA and GWTCA signed an MOU to share information, and it was a pleasure to be able to attend this meeting. The GWTCA represents a broad range of users and has a shared mission with ARCIA in advocating for spectrum. It was fascinating to hear of similar challenges in the US market — how the lack of spectrum or the poor use of spectrum is hampering sections of government and industry. It seems many of the same factors in spectrum management appear around the globe, with governments trading spectrum rights across sectors rather than focusing on the productivity benefits of spectrum as a whole. The meeting included a very interesting presentation on the use of spare TV datacasting channels for high-bandwidth transmission for public safety applications. It certainly seems to me that our wireless future lies in technical collaboration between sectors, and this plan to harness the benefit of broadcasters for public safety is an excellent idea.

On a different tack, at the end of March ARCIA held its networking dinner in Perth. Members gathered to support the industry, and Hank De Jong was named the Western Australia Industry Professional of the Year for his long career and mentorship. For 2019 it was decided that instead of having a Comms Connect event during the day, ARCIA would run a training workshop on multi-coupling followed by an information session with the AMCA’s compliance section. To my surprise, 49 people booked in for the multi-coupling training held across morning and afternoon sessions. It was fantastic to see the Western Australian membership, businesses and users support this training in such numbers, and ARCIA is very fortunate that RF Industries once again supported the workshop.

Following on from the training sessions, Chris Fosten, head of the ACMA’s compliance section, provided a briefing on the areas of compliance the ACMA is involved in and data on the kinds of interference mechanisms, devices and risks that the ACMA deals with. In summary, the LMR industry is held in high regard with very low rates of issues for the ACMA — when problems do occur, there is a very high degree of willingness to comply with regulations. There is still a need to work even closer with the ACMA — as a regulator, it faces many of the same challenges that industry does and it is very clear that we need to work on co-regulation now and in the future.

It is becoming clearer to me, listening to all the groups that we deal with, that we all face a huge challenge — where will the next generation of trained people come from? This topic is coming up again and again between regulators, industry groups and business. ARCIA has been asking these questions over the last few years and trying to figure out how we can arrange training to be available through TAFE and other institutions. However, I think we are now at the point where the industry needs to act. We would be happy to hear from anyone with views and suggestions on this topic.

I look forward to seeing you at the Sydney ARCIA and Comms Connect events in June.

Hamish Duff

President

Australian Radio Communications Industry Association

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