Computerworld

New spectrum planning and allocation initiatives launched

ACMA announces new advisory committee

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) today announced three initiatives to promote increased consultation, transparency and accountability in its radiofrequency spectrum planning and management.

As demand for spectrum is increasing, ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said the range of stakeholders are becoming more varied while spectrum issues are becoming more complex.

'Efficient allocation and use of radiofrequency spectrum promotes economy-wide productivity gains," he said.

"Our approach to spectrum management must allow these efficiency gains to be achieved, while recognising the interests of existing spectrum users."

As a result, ACMA wants to improve interactions with stakeholders.

The first element of ACMA's new approach is the establishment of a new advisory group, the Radiocommunications Consultative Committee, which replaces two former consultative committees.

The aim of the committee is to foster interaction at a 'peak' level and it is expected to meet at least twice a year.

Chapman said an early issue for consideration will be variations to the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan that will flow from the outcomes of the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07), which concluded late last year in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said the committee's work will be underpinned by working groups that will look at issues in both domestic and international spectrum management, a reflection of the increasing reality of convergence.

The first meeting is planned for February 2008.

The second element of ACMA's new approach to consultation will be a radiocommunications conference, RadComms '08, to be held over three days in late April and early May in Melbourne.

This conference will become an annual event.

Chapman said it is designed to enable broad participation by a wide range of stakeholders and to foster discussion of future trends and spectrum requirements for new services to assist in developing ACMA's regulatory settings on these issues.

ACMA also plans to supplement the annual conference approach with more frequent seminars and workshops to update stakeholders on particular topics as these arise, as it did in February 2006 when seeking comments on proposals for wireless access services.

The third element of ACMA's new approach will be the development and annual updating of a five-year rolling spectrum strategy plan.

The strategy will include longer-term projections of spectrum demand (on a band-by-band and by-type-of-service basis).

"It is intended to give spectrum users the information they need about the pressures on spectrum and the direction of ACMA's work, so there can be meaningful interaction between industry and ACMA and among users themselves," Chapman said.

ACMA aims to release its first draft spectrum strategy plan at the time of RadComms '08.

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'We have given a lot of thought to these new arrangements, including reviewing approaches adopted by other leading spectrum regulators around the world, and I am satisfied that our new arrangements will significantly improve the way spectrum is planned and managed in Australia,' Chapman said.

'This is important, because we and our stakeholders collectively have some big challenges ahead.'

The Radiocommunications Consultative Committee has been established as a formal advisory committee under the provisions of section 51 of the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005.

The new committee will take on many of the functions previously undertaken by International Radiocommunications Advisory Committee and the Radiocommunications Consultative Council, which have now been formally revoked.

Moreover, the ACMA plans to limit membership of the Radiocommunications Consultative Committee to a relatively small number of senior executives.

The core membership will be: chairmen of each of ACMA's six Australian Radiocommunications Advisory Groups and; persons representing the interests of one of eight industry and government stakeholder sectors, who have an understanding of contemporary and future operational and strategic issues affecting their respective sectors.

ACMA may also appoint a small number of independent experts or observers, either permanently or from time-to-time, when it considers they will assist the effectiveness of the committee.