- What is contained in the TPGs?
- What happens after you obtain a broadcasting or datacasting licence?
- What happens when the licensee intends to operate from the nominal site shown in the LAP or DCP?
- What happens when the licensee intends to operate a transmitter away from the nominal site?
- Test transmissions
- Emission standards
- What about other services using the broadcasting services bands?
Draft amendment to the Technical Planning GuidelinesOn 31 October 2008 the ACMA invited comments on a draft amendment to the Broadcasting Services (Technical Planning) Guidelines 2007. The draft amendment proposes to insert a new Part which specifies conditions for digital radio services and makes consequential changes to other Parts of the guidelines. Comments closed on 8 December 2008.
1. What is contained in the TPGs?
The TPGs set out the technical conditions with which service providers must comply when planning their facilities, including requirements to be met regarding:
- site restrictions and site tolerances;
- maximum and minimum radiated power;
- maximum field strength permitted;
- interference to other services;
- radiated signal characteristics; and
- test procedures to be followed when establishing transmission facilities.
In addition, Part 7 of the Technical Planning Guidelines describes the obligations of digital television broadcasting and datacasting licensees in respect of potential interference.
2. What happens after you obtain a broadcasting or datacasting licence?
Once you have been allocated a licence for a commercial or community analog broadcasting service, you are automatically entitled to a transmitter licence for that service under section 102 of the Radiocommunications Act.
If you have been allocated a temporary community broadcasting licence, you may be issued a transmitter licence under section 101A of the Radiocommunications Act.
Commercial television licensees converting to digital television transmission are issued with a transmitter licence under section 102A of the Radiocommunications Act.
Successful bidders at a datacasting licence allocation process are entitled to be issued datacasting transmitter licences under section 100 of the Radiocommunications Act.
The transmitter licence will include details of the technical specifications of the service drawn from the relevant licence area plan or digital channel plan such as the frequency, maximum effective radiated power, the site of the transmitter and any special conditions relating to the radiation pattern of the signal.
These technical specifications will already have been spelled out in the licence area plan or digital channel plan and in most cases there will be no flexibility to renegotiate them once the licence area plan or digital channel plan is finalised. However, the TPGs may permit some flexibility to locate the transmitter to a site other than the 'nominal site' shown in the licence area plan.
3. What happens when the licensee intends to operate from the nominal site shown in the LAP or DCP?
For licensees intending to operate their transmitters from the nominal transmitter site in the licence area plan or digital channel plan, the transmitter licence can be issued. The licence will show the details and the nominal site, as published in the licence area plan or digital channel plan. The site shown on the licence will be the nominal site described in the appropriate licence area plan or digital channel plan.
The licensee may then plan and construct the necessary transmitting facilities and conduct test transmissions, in accordance with the TPGs, before starting the permanent broadcasting service.
4. What happens when the licensee intends to operate a transmitter away from the nominal site?
The TPGs provide some flexibility for licensees wishing to use an alternative to the nominal site published in the licence area plan or digital channel plan. Temporary community broadcasting licensees may wish to use an alternative site to that previously specified.
The TPGs contain the criteria the ACMA will use when considering whether to approve alternative sites. The criteria are designed to ensure that the use of an alternative site would not cause interference to radiocommunications services, or to existing or planned broadcasting services shown in the licence area plan or digital channel plan. The licensee must also continue to comply with the other technical specifications in the licence area plan or digital channel plan.
It is the licensee's responsibility to complete the necessary checks and calculations to determine that use of the alternative site will be satisfactory. The licensee must prove to the ACMA that the channel capacity of the licence area plan is not adversely affected and that use of the alternative site would not otherwise cause interference to radiocommunications.
To gain approval for a new site, the licensee must complete the necessary engineering and interference calculations for its proposed site. The licensee must apply to the ACMA for a transmitter licence for test transmissions from the proposed site and provide the ACMA with a report proving that operation from the proposed site is satisfactory within the bounds of the licence area plan or digital channel plan and the TPGs.
Once the ACMA is satisfied the requirements have been met, it will issue the relevant transmitter licence showing the actual site of the transmitter. Where a transmitter licence has already been issued, then the ACMA may vary the existing licence.
The licensee may then begin to provide services from the new licensed transmitting facility.
Site tolerance (the distance a licensee is able to locate its transmitter away from the nominal site) will vary widely from case to case, depending on factors such as the location of other transmission facilities and the channel spacing between the licensee's frequency and the frequencies used by other broadcasting services in the area.
It is important to note that the technical specifications set out in licence area plans or digital channel plans are not negotiable after the relevant licence area plan or digital channel plan has been finalised. If the nominal site proposed in a draft licence area plan or digital channel plan does not suit you, it is important to raise the issue before the licence area plan or digital channel plan is finalised.
5. Test transmissions
The TPGs also deal with related matters such as the test transmission procedures required before start-up and the evidence of tests and checks required to be retained by the licensee.
In all cases, before a licensee can start a new service, or change an existing service, test transmissions must be conducted in order to confirm that there is no interference from the new or changed transmissions. The TPGs provide essential guidance on the steps to be followed by licensees to satisfy this requirement.
Licensees of digital television or datacasting services must comply with the start up procedures specified in the interference management scheme set out in Part 7.
6. Emission standards
The TPGs contain, as appendices, the emission standards applicable to AM and FM radio and to analog television broadcasting transmitters that operate in the broadcasting services bands. The TPGs also contain references to Australian Standards for digital television broadcasting.
Each emission standard describes the radiated signal characteristics including the broadcasting channels used for each broadcasting service in Australia, the system characteristics for each service, main program signal characteristics, and necessary bandwidth.
The emission standard for the AM radio service is based on the draft Emission Standard for the Australian Amplitude Modulation Sound Broadcasting Service published by the Department of Transport and Communications in 1992.
The emission standard for the FM radio service is based on the Emission Standard for the Australian Frequency Modulation Sound Broadcasting Service determined by the Minister for Transport and Communications pursuant to section 125D of the Broadcasting Act 1942, and published by the Department of Transport and Communications in July 1992.
The emission standard for the Australian analog television service is based on the sixth edition of the Emission Standard for the Australian Terrestrial Television Service determined by the Minister for Transport and Communications pursuant to section 125D of the Broadcasting Act 1942, and published by the Department of Transport and Communications in August 1993.
Standards for digital television have been developed under the auspices of Standards Australia. ACMA has based its planning on a particular subset of parameters noted in Australian Standard AS4599-1999 Digital Television - Terrestrial broadcasting - Characteristics of digital television transmissions. It should be noted that the ABA has not mandated compliance with that standard, except for a requirement related to compliance with an emission mask. However, operation with parameters other than assumed by ACMA in its planning will only be protected to the extent provided for by ACMA assumed parameters.
7. What about other services using the broadcasting services bands?
The TPGs do not apply to transmitter licences for national or narrowcasting services. For these services, conditions similar to the TPGs may be applied as special conditions or by means of a Licence Condition Determination on each transmitter licence. Where they are applied, they will operate as they would for commercial and community broadcasting services.