Department announces radiocommunications reform update

Wednesday, 30 October, 2019

Department announces radiocommunications reform update

The Department of Communications has provided an update on the government’s intentions regarding the way forward for radiocommunications reform.

In an email circulated on 24 October, the Department said, “Rather than completely re-writing the legislation, modernising Australia’s spectrum management framework will now be pursued through a staged approach to amending the Radiocommunications Act 1992.”

Under the new scheme, the first stage of amendments will deal with priority issues in order to “deliver tangible benefits to industry and consumers”.

The intention behind the changes is to “remove unnecessary constraints in spectrum allocation and reallocation processes”. This includes:

  • Spectrum licence terms will be extended to a maximum of 20 years, with clearer licence renewal processes.
  • The arrangements for apparatus licences are also being aligned with spectrum licences to the extent possible.
  • There will be changes to improve technical regulation, streamline device supply schemes and introduce graduated enforcement mechanisms for breaches of the Act.
  • To minimise disruption to spectrum users, existing licence types and planning arrangements will be retained at this time.

The Department is working towards introducing a draft amendment bill into the Australian Parliament in early 2020.

“We continue to value the input from our consultation with stakeholders,” the emailed notification said. “Much of what will appear in the draft bill was the subject of consultation through the exposure draft of the Radiocommunications Bill that was released in May 2017. Feedback on that bill has helped to shape the approach to amendments. We will keep you informed as the next draft bill progresses and when opportunities for further consultation arise.”

A second stage of amendments to further improve efficiency and flexibility will be considered following passage of the first package and in consultation with stakeholders.

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