Government to address wireless spectrum shortages

Wireless demand stressing infrastructure

The federal government is planning to release specific proposals into the management of Australia's wireless access spectrum to cope with increasing demand.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is gauging the demand for future wireless access services (WAS) and associated spectrum support requirements.

The telecommunications industry is already concerned about an insufficient wireless spectrum. ACMA is currently unable to satisfy the spectrum requirements of all Australian wireless access services.

ACMA chairman and CEO Chris Chapman told the Information Communications Entertainment Conference in Canberra yesterday the paper will discuss strategies for both the development of existing wireless services and the deployment of new services.

"Last February we released a major spectrum planning discussion paper and held a seminar that's intended to help us all collectively scope the dimension of the spectrum management tasks raised by new wireless broadband access technologies," Chapman said.

"I'm hoping we'll be in a position to release a further discussion paper with some specific proposals before our inaugural spectrum management conference in just a couple of weeks"

The spectrum shortages are caused in part by new developments in wireless technology.

According to the ACMA, the popularity of Internet-ready phones, on-line ready consoles and other wireless devices is driving up demand for frequencies on the wireless spectrum.

In a submission to the original discussion paper, the Australian Telecommunications User's Group (ATUG) told ACMA it expects demand for wireless access to broadband services to grow significantly over the next five years.

This coupled with increasing demand for seamless connectivity of cross-platform devices will place added stresses on Australia's wireless infrastructure.

Some industry analysts are concerned a lack of spectrum breadth will inhibit the introduction of fledgling wireless technologies such as WiMax.

The paper also examines the disparity between availability of wireless services in regional and metropolitan areas.

The original discussion paper canvasses one solution to the problem of dwindling wireless frequencies.

It recommends the introduction of a 'private park' spectrum commons system, whereby content providers will be able to share frequencies under certain pre-regulated conditions.

The downside for comprehensive service carriers and larger ISPs is that the risk of spectrum interference will prevent them from guaranteeing quality of service (QoS), especially in areas which see heavy wireless spectrum usage.

The review predicts that with increasing adoption of open wireless communication networks such as WiFi, WiMax and related technologies, content providers will be expected to facilitate communications between every service which shares their spectrum frequency.

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