ACMA to overhaul 400MHz spectrum

Communications regulator says move will increase government comms interoperability

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is touting its new 400 MHz spectrum recommendations as a means to dramatically increase essential and emergency service interoperability within state and federal government agencies.

The measures, outlined in The way ahead - Decisions and implementation options for the 400 MHz band consultation paper, will see the allocation of the 403–470 MHz band for the exclusive use of government, primarily to support national security, law enforcement and emergency services.

The ACMA will also oversee an increase in the technology options able to be supported in the band through changing the frequency duplex arrangements in the 450–470 MHz band and changing the channelling scheme to open up options for technologies requiring the band to operate.

Additionally, the review includes improvements to underlying technical arrangements in the band including a reduction in channel bandwidths and updates to the assignment and coordination rules. The changes will assist in reducing congestion, which will allow expanded use of the band, according to the ACMA.

With an eye to improving the utility of the band, while balancing future flexibility, the UHF citizen band, part of the 400 MHz spectrum, will also be changed to increase the number of channels available through a reduction in channel bandwidth.

Detailing the changes, the ACMA said its proposed changes updated technical arrangements to accommodate current and expected future technologies and offer greater flexibility in the way spectrum can be used.

“The spectrum arrangements put forward in this paper are likely to mark the beginning of a new era in government radio networks, with the emergence of large, efficient networks that provide a greater level of support for emergency services and other vital government objectives than is currently the case,” the paper reads.

“The new arrangements create a significant and rarely delivered opportunity for government organisations to develop a nationally harmonised and interoperable system of government radio networks able to deliver effective radio communications on a national scale,” the paper reads.

The ACMA said the transition process would take in three phases, with transition due to be completed by 31 December 2015 in high and medium density areas and by 31 December 2018 outside these areas.

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Tags federal governmentAustralian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)spectrum

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