21 October 2010
ACMA to re-plan part of the 2.5 GHz band and retain capacity for electronic news gathering
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has decided to re-plan part of the 2.5 GHz band to facilitate new uses such as wireless access services (WAS), while retaining parts of the band used by current licensees for electronic news gathering (ENG). A range of other bands will be made available to maintain ENG service delivery equivalence to that currently provided.
‘This decision provides long-term certainty for the current incumbent licensees in the 2.5 GHz band, while nonetheless opening up the band for wireless access services and aligning Australia with international standards,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘The retention of the mid-band gap for ENG-use is a world-first initiative—and, in combination with access to alternate bands, should ensure the continued provision of important news services to all Australians.’
The outcome is consistent with the preferred approach put forward in the ACMA’s discussion paper Review of the 2.5 GHz (2500-2690 MHz) band and long-term arrangements for ENG, released on 12 January 2010. The ACMA received 42 submissions to the discussion paper.
In its Response to Submissions paper PDF (330 kb) or Word (430 kb)—published today—the ACMA recognises that implementing new arrangements in the 2.5 GHz band and providing long-term certainty for ENG services will affect a range of very important sectors in the Australian economy. Those sectors include television broadcasters – free-to-air and subscription – and the telecommunications and space industries, as well as the Department of Defence.
‘The ACMA’s decision is the culmination of a number of consultation processes conducted over the last five years. The ACMA considers its decision represents a balanced approach which attempts to meaningfully address the competing concerns of affected parties,’ Mr Chapman said.
Mr Chapman said there were still a number of important issues to be resolved, ranging from developing sharing arrangements in the other bands through to the timing of a price-based allocation for parts of the 2.5 GHz band. ENG operators would not be able to relocate from the 2.5 GHz band until suitable arrangements had been made in the other bands.
‘We are very appreciative of and informed by the contributions provided to us to date and we hope that stakeholders will continue to engage constructively with us throughout the implementation phase,’ Mr Chapman said, adding that the complexity of the issues to be resolved, particularly in the development of appropriate arrangements in bands other than 2.5 GHz, meant the implementation phase is expected to continue over several years.
The ACMA will use a variety of forums to consult with interested stakeholders in developing these arrangements. The ACMA will establish industry working groups for the development of technical frameworks for new licences in the 2.5 GHz band, schedule spectrum tune-ups and continue discussions with stakeholders on 2.5 GHz processes. A number of stakeholders who are likely to be affected by the changing arrangements have already indicated in their submissions to the discussion paper that they are willing to participate in these processes.
'The ACMA is committed to engaging openly and consultatively with its stakeholders,' Mr Chapman said. 'If affected parties work constructively with us, then we will more readily be able to develop appropriate arrangements that balance competing needs.'
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Donald Robertson, Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980, 0418 86 1766 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The ACMA is Australia’s regulator for broadcasting, the internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications. The ACMA’s strategic intent is to make communications and media work in Australia’s public interest. For more information: www.acma.gov.au.