Major event and venue operators could soon access spectrum for wireless audio devices for a cheaper fee under an Australian Communications and Media Authority proposal released today.
The majority of wireless audio users operate their devices under the Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) Class Licence 2000 (the Class Licence), which attracts no licence fee. Users, however, also have the option of accessing spectrum for a fee using apparatus licences.
‘The new apparatus licence arrangement is an additional option for wireless microphone users who require certainty and flexibility of spectrum arrangements in the 520–694 MHz band,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘We’re anticipating that it will typically be best suited to professional users of wireless microphones at major events and venues.
‘Apparatus licence fees for wireless audio devices under existing arrangements are expensive. The proposed reduction in fees seeks to address that.
‘Lowering the fee is yet another step towards recognising that wireless microphones users make a significant contribution to the Australian economy and community,’ Mr Chapman added. ‘It is one of a number of ACMA initiatives designed to help wireless microphone users access spectrum and transition to radio frequency 520-694 MHz from 1 January 2015.’
Other projects include:
> A dedicated ‘one-stop shop’ wireless microphones hub that provides information on the 1 January 2015 transition, including a short video (featuring popular television presenter, Shelley Craft) that explains how users can prepare for the transition
> Fact sheets detailing frequencies available for wireless microphone users on an area-by-area basis after 1 January 2015.
The ACMA is aiming to make the new fee available for licence applications before 1 January 2015.
Interested parties have until 20 August 2014 to submit their response to the proposed fee change. The discussion paper outlining the changes can be found here.
This proposed fee arrangement will not affect existing wireless microphone users who operate under the Class Licence.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Blake Murdoch (02) 9334 7817 or email@example.com.
Making communications and media work in Australia’s public interest. | acma.gov.au
Media release 35/2014 - 10 July
The Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) Class Licence 2000 (Class Licence) sets out the frequency bands that are available for wireless microphone use. Class licensees do not pay licence fees and operate on a ‘no interference, no-protection basis’ in relation to other radiocommunication services (such as television broadcasts), meaning that they can neither cause radio interference, nor claim protection from it.
Following a consultation process in May 2013, the ACMA revised the Class Licence to exclude the 694-820 MHz (currently earmarked to deliver 4G mobile services) from wireless microphones use from 1 January 2015. Although wireless microphones operators can use the 520-694 MHz as an alternative band, users will need to ensure they do not cause interference to digital television broadcast services in their area.
The majority of wireless microphone users (such as community clubs and small businesses) operate their devices under the Class Licence. Occasionally, when using large number of wireless microphones, professional users and major event planners require greater flexibility than that provided by the class licence arrangements.
The ACMA is providing this flexibility by developing arrangements whereby wireless microphone operation can be authorised under what is known as the apparatus licensing system, if it can be demonstrated that the operation will not interfere with broadcast television reception. The ACMA will be consulting with industry on the supporting technical criteria later this year.
Another related aspect of these arrangements is the setting of an appropriate fee (which is the subject of this consultation). The annual tax for several low-power wireless audio transmitters operating in a 7 MHz bandwidth would amount to approximately $74,000 under the current apparatus licence tax arrangements. This tax seems prohibitive and does not reflect operational restrictions on wireless microphones and usage.
The ACMA is therefore proposing a more appropriate licensing regime with lower fees for wireless microphones, which would particularly benefit professional users of wireless microphones (such as major event and venue operators). The new proposed fee consists of an annual tax of $37.48 and an issue charge of $493.