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Easier access to spectrum for Internet of Things

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Operators of machine to machine (M2M) wireless communications links used in the Internet of Things (IoT) will find it easier to access spectrum under proposed changes to regulatory arrangements released today.

Many current generation M2M and IoT devices access spectrum via the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s class licensing regime (similar to a “spectrum commons”).

The proposed changes will remove a technical barrier to the operation of narrowband low powered wireless networks in the Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) Class Licence 2015 in the 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz band and 5.8 GHz bands. They support a variety applications such as data telemetry, machine data and monitoring, sensor networks, smart metering, security systems and industrial control—all across a variety of industries.

‘The changes should encourage innovations in the M2M and IoT spaces,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. ‘The proposals are a part of our work in looking at Australia’s state of readiness for IoT and identifying areas where the ACMA can further assist IoT developments.’

Other proposed changes to current regulatory arrangements include the addition of the new frequency bands for radiodetermination transmitters used as industrial sensors; in-ground ultra-wide bandwidth transmitters used in automated parking management systems; building material analysis devices used for detection of objects in walls ceilings and floors; and to align for European arrangement for short range devices in the frequency bands 122.25-123 GHz and 244-246 GHz.

Submissions on the proposed changes close on 26 February 2016.

For more information see Backgrounder below or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719, 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.

Media release 68/2015 - 22 December

Backgrounder

IoT - Internet of Things

The IoT refers to the inter-connection of many devices and objects using internet protocols. It is regarded as the next stage in digital communications convergence within the wider economy. Realising the potential benefits from mass device and information connectivity also depends upon appropriate regulatory settings enabling machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, reduced and/or removed barriers to adoption, as well as mitigating potential harmful activities.

While there are many different projections about the likely number of connected devices in Australia, there is a growing industry consensus that IoT will be characterised by a rapid increase in the number of connected devices and a rapid evolution in the range of associated applications and services on offer as a consequence.

Australia is well placed to realise a share of these potential productivity gains, with the Australian communications and digital information industries demonstrating significant capacity over many years in leading and responding to change. Australian consumers and citizens have also shown a similar appetite for embracing new forms of communications technology and adapting their communications practices.

As the regulator for communications and media in Australia, the ACMA is assessing how existing regulation can be used to further facilitate and enable Australian businesses and citizens to benefit from IoT innovations.

In our recent occasional paper Internet of Things and the ACMA’s areas of focus—Emerging issues in media and communications, we looked at Australia’s state of readiness for IoT. The paper identified areas for attention that are likely to be important in facilitating IoT developments in the near, medium and longer term. These suggested priority areas include:

  • resource allocation, such as spectrum and telephone numbers needed for communications infrastructure
  • managing network security and integrity
  • supporting the interoperability of devices and information through standards-setting
  • supporting Australian business and consumers to develop stronger digital technical capabilities and literacy to interact constructively with devices, set against the increasing complexity of digital information.

The ACMA is also working with Communications Alliance members as part of the IOT Think Tank and is leading the Think Tank on spectrum availability (Work Stream 4).

Class licensing

It is a general requirement of the Radiocommunications Act that the operation of all radiocommunications devices within Australia be authorised by a radiocommunications licence.

A class licence is one type of licence available to authorise the operation of radiocommunications devices. It is an effective and efficient means of spectrum management for services where a limited set of common frequencies is employed, and equipment is operated under a common set of conditions.

A class licence sets out the conditions under which any person is permitted to operate any device to which the class licence is applicable—it is not issued to an individual user and does not involve the payment of licence fees.  A class licence is issued by the ACMA under section 132 of the Act by making a legislative instrument that is registered on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments (FRLI) (see www.comlaw.gov.au).

The Radiocommunications (Low Interference Devices) Class Licence 2015 (the LIPD Class Licence) authorises the operation of a wide range of radiocommunications devices in various segments of the radiofrequency spectrum. The technical characteristics of these devices mean that the devices have a low potential to cause interference to other devices.

The transmitters authorised by the LIPD class licence do not require individual frequency coordination for interference management purposes. Examples of equipment covered by the LIPD class licence include garage door openers, Bluetooth devices, wireless microphones, anti- theft devices, e-tag systems and wireless local area network devices.

With the release of today’s discussion paper, there is an open invitation for suggestions from industry and individuals on devices and technologies for possible inclusion in the list of transmitters authorised under the LIPD class licence.

 

 

Last updated: 15 March 2016

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