Everything old is new again

By Ian Miller
Friday, 27 January, 2023

Everything old is new again

How often have we heard that saying over the years, from fashion to fads in toys for children and many other aspects of life. Even in our own industry it also occurs; years ago people would listen to the ‘wireless’ for information, then we were trained to use the more modern term of ‘radio’, but now we are back to talking about ‘wireless broadband’. In this process of change, has anything really happened? Certainly the frequency of operation and the modulation format have changed, but the basics are still the same.

At the recent ACMA RadComms conference it was interesting to see some of the new ways that spectrum is utilised, including geolocation techniques, drone control from long distances and other similar things that all seem to be new. Yet when you sit back and analyse what is happening and how it all works, these are just different applications of the laws of physics that have ruled our communications and radio spectrum use always. It is these new ways of using the same old techniques that make our innovators world leaders.

ARCIA recognises that many of these innovators have been able to nurture their ideas to a commercial outcome; products and developments that have applications in a global market. This is one of the ways that as Australians we can foster and support our local innovators to generate a resurgence in Australian manufacture. We may not have the ability to compete head-to-head with the major manufacturing countries, but we have proven that we can adapt products to enhance the mainstream market needs. Examples are organisations like PWC, who have designed and manufacture cordless microphones; Zetifi, who adapt and enhance Wi-Fi products to suit the agricultural markets; and many more small organisations who are also doing great things.

To explore these organisations and perhaps help them to grow, ARCIA will be pulling local organisations together for a ‘manufacturers forum’ to see what they are doing successfully and see if we can help them to grow their markets and capabilities. As an organisation, ARCIA has always believed other spectrum users should be encouraged and that we should help them with their spectrum discussions as much as we can. Our approach with the ACMA has been based on decisions being fully transparent and recognising the specialised needs of as many legitimate users as possible.

Over several years we have recognised the scientific spectrum segments and have discussed their unique needs with CSIRO representatives on multiple occasions. Through both discussions and our own familiarity with the Radio Quiet Zone (RQZ) in central Western Australia, as well as the future SKA which will open many new and exciting avenues for space exploration, we recognise their specific needs. One of the things that we do recognise and ask our industry members (as well as all radio communications users) is to respect the RQZ parameters.

In Carol Wilson’s article on the SKA, she points out that the SKA will not create problems for satellite phones or other communications systems — but we should also remember to be careful with other forms of communications. Devices using Wi-Fi, or UHF CB, or commercial systems perhaps should be turned OFF or at least have their use minimised in the RQZ area. Have you ever stopped to realise that most radio receivers also emit radio interference? Although the level of that signal may be very low, it is thousands of times higher than the signals the SKA will be trying to listen for. So please respect the RQZ, and remind others to do that as well.

Ian Miller is Executive Officer of the Australian Radio Communications Industry Association (ARCIA).

Top image credit: iStock.com/Tempura

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