The best way of gaining access to the spectrum will depend on how the communication services are to be delivered. For example, rather than developing whole new systems (with new spectrum requirements), it may be possible to deliver user needs through existing infrastructure or service providers. Small businesses now regularly use existing public systems such as GSM mobile telephony rather than their own private mobile radio networks to meet their business needs. New services with potential to support increasingly demanding user requirements are being introduced internationally this might include for example new generations of terrestrial networks or satellites designed for delivering advanced telecommunications and navigation services.
On the other hand, completely new systems designed specifically for new forms of communications might be envisaged. Where this was the case, and where there was no suitable existing spectrum allocation, intending service providers might need to approach the ACMA to start the spectrum allocation process.
Drawing on some of the planning concepts in this article, the following issues might arise when considering access to the radiofrequency spectrum:
- Service characteristics - what types of services are intended, noting that there could be several different types and several bands necessary to provide an integrated solution
- Band selection - what bands best suit the intended applications and what are the current uses of those bands?
- Incumbency issues - are there incumbents in the bands desired and can they be cleared if necessary?
- Licensing - what is the appropriate form of licensing for the various applications?
- Standards - what standards need to be developed to ensure interoperability and interference management, and what organisations would do this work?
- Industry involvement - how is all of this work to be co-ordinated with industry?
- Harmonisation - is development required to be harmonised domestically and internationally?
Early consultation with the ACMA about spectrum requirements would be useful in facilitating access to the spectrum, especially given the long lead times that may be necessary for international and even domestic spectrum planning. It should be noted however, that the ACMA is not equipped to play an industry development role in this area. The ACMA would not be able to respond, for example, by offering detailed technical advice about how a system might be implemented or other development issues raised by potential equipment suppliers or service providers. Nevertheless, the ACMA would be happy to consult and assist where it can.