From April 2008 to April 2010, the Australian Communications and Media Authority undertook a review of arrangements for the radiofrequency spectrum in the range 403-520 MHz (the 400 MHz band). The 400 MHz band is predominantly used for the land mobile service, but also accommodates other services, including the fixed (point-to-point and point-to-multipoint), radiolocation and amateur services.
The broad objectives of the review of the 400 MHz band were to implement measures to:
- improve the harmonisation of spectrum use by certain government agencies to assist in radiocommunications interoperability objectives and the development of efficient government networks;
- improve the allocative, technical and dynamic efficiency with which spectrum in the band is allocated and used, by reviewing the relevant frequency assigning and licensing mechanisms (including band plans, licensing instructions, licensing options and pricing);
- facilitate new technologies and possible complementary uses of the band;
- implement arrangements that take advantage of the different spectrum management requirements and challenges between different geographic areas; and
- minimise the requirement for ongoing ACMA intervention in the band.
In April 2008, the ACMA took the first formal step in the review of arrangements in the 400 MHz band with the release of the first discussion paper Spectrum Options: 403-520 MHz. The purpose of the discussion paper was to stimulate discussion and gather information from stakeholders to assist the ACMA to develop future arrangements.
Seventy five responses were received to the Options Paper—all but one confidential submission are available on the ACMA website. Subsequent analysis of the responses and additional work carried out by ACMA resulted in the development of the refined options and proposals set out in ACMA’s second discussion paper Spectrum Proposals: 403-520 MHz, released in April 2009.
The ACMA also sought public and industry comment on proposals to set prices for administratively allocated spectrum in the 400 MHz band based on opportunity cost pricing methods in the discussion paper Opportunity Cost Pricing of Spectrum: Public consultation on administrative pricing of spectrum based on opportunity cost. This consultation is separate to the larger 400 MHz review.
The ACMA received 61 submissions to the Proposals Paper. To assist with stakeholder consideration of the range of issues raised, the ACMA prepared a summary of the submissions (PDF 159 kb) for this discussion paper.
In April 2010, the ACMA released the final paper in the review of the 400 MHz band, The way ahead - Decisions and implementation options for the 400 MHz band. This paper sets out a range of decisions for future arrangements in the 400 MHz band and puts forward implementation plans and timeframes to implement the new arrangements.
The ACMA received 27 non-confidential submissions to the paper, which are available on the ACMA website. The ACMA is currently analysing all submissions
Radiocommunications Consultative Committee Working Group for the Review of the 400 MHz band
In September 2008, the ACMA established a Working Group for the Review of the 400 MHz band under the auspices of the Radiocommunications Consultative Committee. Its purpose is to:
- assist as appropriate with the review of the 400 MHz band;
- provide advice on issues related to ACMA’s ongoing review; and
- operate as a forum for in-depth consultation with major industry stakeholders on future arrangements for the frequency band 403–520 MHz (the 400 MHz band).
More information on the Working Group is available.
Events – Stakeholder Engagement
The ACMA has engaged with stakeholders affected by the review of the 400 MHz band, and have presented on the review at:
- RadComms 08 and 09
- Radiocomms Connect 2008 and 2009
- Spectrum Tune-up 2008 and 2009
- Mining Automation and Communication Conference, 2010
Additionally, on 28 April, the ACMA hosted a 400 MHz briefing and discussion session the Australian National Maritime Museum. This briefing was held in addition to the formal public consultation process underway by the ACMA through the release of the Proposals Paper. The session involved discussion on each of the sections of the Proposals Paper.
In July and August 2010, the ACMA will hold a 400 MHz Roadshow. The Road Show will consist of a series of regulatory tune ups, around Australia which aim to inform stakeholders of the current planned changes to the band and to answer stakeholder questions. More information on these tune-ups can be found on the 400 MHz Road Show website.
- The way ahead – Timeframes and implementation plans for the 400 MHz band
- IFC 11/2010 The way ahead - Decisions and implementation options for the 400 MHz band (30 April 2010, closes 6 June 2010)
- IFC 12/2009 Opportunity Cost Pricing of Spectrum: Public consultation on administrative pricing for spectrum based on opportunity cost (23 April 2009, closed 5 June 2009)
- IFC 08/2009 Spectrum Proposals: 403-520 MHz - Proposals for future arrangements in the 400 MHz band (2 April 2009, closed 29 May 2009)
- IFC 06/2008 Spectrum Options: 403–520 MHz - Initial consultation on future arrangements for the 400 MHz band (18 April 2008, closed 31 July 2008)
Relevant Media releases
- MR 167/2010 Emergency services win from new spectrum plan (23 Dec)
- MR 54/2010 ACMA facilitates more efficient use of 400 MHz spectrum band by government agencies (30 Apr)
- MR 49/2009 ACMA releases proposals to set prices for 400 MHz spectrum based on opportunity cost methods (23 Apr)
- MR 44/2009 ACMA proposes new measures for 400 MHz band (2 Apr)
- MR 41/2008 ACMA releases options for future use of the spectrum in the 400 MHz band (18 Apr)
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
- Paving the way for better radiocommunications between emergency services nationwide (Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, 07 Jan 2009)
Relevant embargoes and other documents
Spectrum embargoes 53, 54, 55 and 56 were put in place when the Way Ahead paper was released. The aim of these embargoes is to support the decisions outlined in the Way Ahead paper and assist in the timely implementation of these decisions.
Spectrum embargo 60 was created on 16 July 2010 to support the formalisation of arrangements for the rail industry as discussed in the Way Ahead paper.
The following technical documents have been reviewed in the current phase of the review of arrangements in the 400 MHz band. The revised versions of these documents can be found here:
- 400 MHz Plan (MS 22)
- Frequency Assignment Requirements for the Land Mobile Service (RALI LM 8)
- Point to Multipoint Fixed Services in the 400 MHz and 900 MHz bands (RALI FX 16)
- Frequency Assignment Requirements for Narrowband Single Channel Two Frequency Point-to-point Services in the 400 MHz and 900 MHz Bands (RALI FX 17)