ACA considers private band management

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) is mulling over the possibility of industry, community or other government organizations managing some radio frequency spectrum bands and has released a discussion paper.

The discussion paper aims to gauge the level of interest in private band management and to identify which bands might attract the attention of potential band managers.

ACA acting chairman Dr Bob Horton said that under private band management, the ACA would lease or sell blocks of spectrum to a band manager who would sub-lease spectrum access rights to users or tenants.

"The tenants would operate under the band manager's licence through a contractual agreement negotiated between each tenant and the band manager," Horton said. "It can be compared to a shopping centre owner sub-leasing the various units in the centre to different business and retail tenants. Band managers would have to comply with rules set down by the ACA to ensure protection of the rights of other spectrum users."

The ACA currently managed access to the spectrum by issuing radio communications licences that authorize spectrum use.

"In the past year, regulators in many countries have started to look at introducing private band management as a way of dealing with rapidly changing communications technologies and increasing demand for spectrum," he said. "Private band management could bring even greater efficiency to the use and management of spectrum in Australia."

Horton said preliminary talks with industry and other government organizations had shown that there was growing interest in the concept of private band management.

"The ACA is interested in views on the concept," he said. "In particular, we would like to know whether there are people or organizations interested in becoming private band managers, which specific bands may be of interest, and whether the ACA should consider options for a policy framework to support private band management."

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