400 MHz band under review

Monday, 28 April, 2008

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has taken the first public step in reviewing arrangements in the radio frequency spectrum from 403–520 MHz by seeking public and industry comment on options for its future use.

There is a large number of disparate users of the 400 MHz band, which is used predominantly by land mobile services. These include government agencies (such as the Department of Defence and state and territory emergency services) and commercial entities such as broadcasters, mining companies, security firms and taxi companies.

"There has been increasing pressure from industry and users of the 400 MHz band to establish arrangements that will better accommodate future communication needs through current and emerging technologies," said Chris Chapman, ACMA chairman.

"The aim of  replanning is to maximise, by ensuring efficient allocation and use of the spectrum, the overall public benefit derived from its use, while continuing to provide adequate spectrum for defence, national security and emergency services."

The band is also used for other radiocommunication services including fixed (point-to-point and point-to-multipoint), radiolocation and amateur services.

Much of the band has become congested in the major capital cities and overall there is a growing need to support more efficient technologies.

An additional motivation for reviewing the band is to identify harmonised spectrum to facilitate radiocommunications interoperability of certain government agencies (such as law enforcement and other emergency services). This issue is of great interest to many government agencies and one which ACMA considers of major importance.

ACMA is seeking information and comment on a wide range of issues, including: improvements to the technical efficiency in the use of the spectrum; consideration of the allocation and licensing mechanisms used in the band with the goal of improving allocation efficiency options for new technologies and uses of the band such as public cellular mobile telephone services; opportunities for harmonising spectrum use by certain government agencies.

ACMA’s discussion paper Spectrum Options: 403–520 MHz — Initial consultation on future arrangements for the 400 MHz band, is part of a series of spectrum-related consultation documents released by ACMA.

The closing date for comment is 18 July 2008.


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