- What is a spectrum licence
- How are spectrum licences allocated
- How is it used
- What is spectrum space
- Australian spectrum map grid
A spectrum licence authorises a licensee to use for a period of up to 15 years a parcel of spectrum space: that is, a particular frequency band within a particular geographic area. For the purpose of allocation and trading, spectrum space is divided into Standard Trading Units.
Spectrum licences are generally offered at auction for spectrum for which the demand greatly exceeds supply. The development of these licences generally has long lead times. Where auctions do not result in complete sale of all spectrum space (or lots), then residual auctions may be staged for the remaining lots. Where there is a single applicant for spectrum space, then the ACMA can negotiate sale of the licence to the applicant at the reserve price.
Spectrum licensing was introduced under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act), and offers a technology-flexible, market-oriented approach to managing the radio frequency spectrum. Spectrum licensees can change their service over time in response to commercial realities, and respond more quickly to technological innovation without having to seek government approval.
Provided that they comply with the core licence conditions and the technical framework established for the band by the ACMA and the Act, licensees can choose how they deploy devices within their spectrum space, the nature of the service they wish to deliver, and the technology that they use. The technical framework of a spectrum licence includes emission limits referred to in core licence conditions, determinations regarding unacceptable levels of interference, and advisory guidelines.
These licences are also fully tradeable in the open market and can be amalgamated, divided, or re-assigned, in part or in whole, to third parties, subject to ongoing compliance with the interference management framework established by the ACMA. They can be sold or leased out to third parties, as a whole or in part, based on geographic area, bandwidth or both. A licensee can extend the geographic coverage or bandwidth of their licence by acquiring an adjacent spectrum licence from another licensee. In this case the two spectrum licences may be combined into one new licence.
Spectrum space can be considered to exist in three dimensions: it covers a geographic area (latitude and longitude) and it has a height. The geographical area represents the horizontal dimensions and the radiofrequency bandwidth the vertical dimension. In reality it also encompasses a fourth dimension: time. However, for convenience, the ACMA effectively holds time constant for all licences. Each spectrum space can be further subdivided into standard trading units to facilitate trading and allocation of spectrum.
In this diagram, the outer cubes represent the licence boundaries and the inner cubes the most flexible spectrum occupancy. Under real world conditions, different devices will interact with the geography to produce different and irregular shapes. Spectrum licences enable the licensee to change the device or system they use without necessarily having to renegotiate licence boundary conditions.
The Australian spectrum map grid is used to identify geographic areas of spectrum licences. In accordance with paragraph 66(1)(c) of the Act, a condition specifying the geographic area within which operation of radiocommunications devices is permitted under the licence, is a core condition of a spectrum licence.
The ASMG incorporates both geographic coordinates (latitude/longitude) and grid coordinates (zones/eastings/northings). These coordinates are specified under a datum, which from 2012 is the Geocentric Datum of Australia 1994 (GDA94). The ASMG provides a hierarchical cell identification scheme (HCIS), which is intended provide greater clarity, flexibility and certainty in identifying the geographic area of spectrum licences for the purposes of issue or trading.
The Australian spectrum map grid 2012
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Spatial data for the ASMG, including the HCIS levels, is available in Shapefile format:
HCIS area descriptions may be visualised using the HCIS to Placemark converter. An application capable of displaying Placemarks (aka KML files) will required.