Ultra wideband (UWB) technology generally involves the radiation, reception and processing of very wide bandwidth radiofrequency emissions for short-range applications. UWB applications include automotive collision-avoidance systems, and high data rate interference-tolerant communications.
Typically, the emissions from a UWB transmitter will span a number of radiofrequency bands that have been allocated for a range of different purposes. For example, a 24 GHz UWB transmitter might occupy a bandwidth around 5 GHz, which would span frequencies used for such purposes as microwave fixed links, space research, radio astronomy, amateur radio and satellite communications - for details on current spectrum allocations see the Australian radiofrequency spectrum plan.
As a general principle, the ACMA seeks where possible to align Australia's spectrum management arrangements with those of the rest of the world, for the trade and community benefits that brings. In this context, by early 2003 the development of an international regulatory framework generally applicable to UWB was at an early stage. Two general concerns were raised internationally to be resolved:
- the potential for interference to the services already using those bands; and
- the regulatory method for accommodating these devices within the radio regulations (UWB is a group of technologies, not a service as defined by the ITU).
Carriage of these issues within the framework of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has been given to a specific task group (TG 1/8) formed within Study Group 1 in 2002. The work of the task group concluded in October 2005 and several recommendations have now been finalised through the ITU-R approval process.
Additionally, the ACMA and DBCDE (formerly DCITA) worked on various licensing and legislative issues that will need to be resolved before, generally speaking, ACMA will have sufficiently flexible licensing powers to be able to authorise the use of UWB devices in this country. The ACMA paper Ultra wideband (UWB) - A background brief (PDF 252 kb), released in May 2003, provides useful information on these matters.
In 2005 arrangements were introduced to allow the use of UWB technology in scientific trials in Australia:
- Media Release: Use of ultra wideband approved for the first time
Studies were completed in early 2006 into providing support for the introduction of 24 GHz Ultra wideband short range radars for automotive applications (PDF 722 kb).
In July 2006 arrangements were introduced to allow the use of 24 GHz ultra wideband short range radar devices for automotive use in Australia:
- Media Release: Licensing for anti-collision vehicle radar