Broadcasting trials | ACMA

Broadcasting trials

The ACMA and its predecessors have made a practice of permitting the use of unallocated available spectrum in the broadcasting services bands to support trials of new technologies. The ACMA's general policy on the conduct of these trials limits their duration to periods of 12 months. Information, including the guidelines used by the ACMA to assess applications for trials of new technology, is available. Additional principles that the ACMA developed to assist in managing access to unused BSB spectrum during the digital television switchover and restack process can accessed on the 3D Television page.

3D TV trials

Since May 2010 the ACMA has issued a number of scientific apparatus licences which have authorised trials of 3D TV. More ...

DAB+ trials

In response to applications from Commercial Radio Australia, the ACMA has authorised trials of DAB+ in Canberra and Darwin. More ...


DVB-H trials

In July 2005, the ACMA approved an application from The Bridge Networks Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Broadcast Australia) to conduct a DVB-H trial in Sydney on channel 29. The ACMA made a determination under subsection 34(1) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 that allowed The Bridge Networks to conduct the trial from July 2005 to July 2006.

In July 2006, the ACMA made a determination under subsection 34(1) of the Act to extend the trial until 31 December 2006. Broadcast Australia requested a further extension of the trial, however the ACMA decided that sufficient time had already been available for the trial. The trial subsequently ceased on 31 January 2007.

In March 2007, the ACMA approved an application from Irdeto Access Pty Ltd to conduct a DVB-H trial in Sydney on channel 29. The ACMA made a determination under subsection 34(1) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 that allowed Irdeto Access Pty Ltd to conduct the trial from May 2007 to July 2007.

In July 2007, the ACMA made a determination under subsection 34(1) of the Act to extend the trial until 31 August 2007.

Copies of reports of these trials are available below:

In November 2008, the ACMA approved an application by Australian Digital Testing (ADT) to conduct a DVB-H trial in Sydney on Channel 29, to demonstrate and test the interoperability of mobile television services on DVB-H handsets from a number of suppliers.

The proposed trial period was the period 1 December 2008 to 28 February 2009.

A copy of the trial report is available below:


Datacasting trials

Broadcast Australia conducted a datacasting trial in Sydney in the radiofrequency band 575-582 MHz. The trial, known as DIGITAL FORTY FOUR, operated from December 2003 to April 2010.

On 29 January 2010, the ACMA issued a final licence and made spectrum available until 30 April 2010. Datacasting service licences issued in relation to the trial are listed in the table below.

Licence identifier

Licensee

Transmitter details

Date allocated

SL1170572

Department of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff

Transmitter licensed to Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd

30 Oct 2003

SL1170573

Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd

Transmitter licensed to Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd

30 Oct 2003

SL1170574

Tab Limited

Transmitter licensed to Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd

30 Oct 2003

SL1170575

Expo Network Pty Ltd

Transmitter licensed to Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd

4 Nov 2003

SL1170578

Macquarie Equities (Australia) Limited

Transmitter licensed to Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd

18 Nov 2003

SL1170581

NSW Department of Commerce

Transmitter licensed to Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd

9 Dec 2003

SL1170622

Australian Christian Channel Pty Ltd

Transmitter licensed to Broadcast Australia Pty Ltd

29 Jun 2004

Copies of the latest reports are available:

Active radio frequency override (over-broadcasting) trials

In September 2012, the ACMA issued a scientific licence to Emergency Warning Systems Pty Ltd (EWS) to authorise a 12 month trial of proprietary active radio frequency override technology (‘over-broadcasting’) at Eldorado, Victoria.

Over-broadcast technology involves interrupting the reception of existing FM radio stations with an emergency message or alert. The alert transmitter operates at a power level sufficient to overpower the reception of other radio stations so listeners receive the alert broadcast instead.

EWS conducted the trial on 2 November 2012 in association with the Eldorado County Fire Authority. In order to simulate an over-broadcast scenario a local commercial radio station’s broadcasts were retransmitted on an unused frequency (a ‘mock’ radio station).  Residents within a 10 kilometre radius of Eldorado were asked to tune in to the mock station where simulated emergency warnings were broadcast overpowering the retransmitted broadcast.

The summary and findings for the trial are available in the trial report.

A further trial of mobile over-broadcasting was conducted by EWS in September 2014. The trial involved transmitting a message from a moving vehicle which over-powered the reception of a mock radio station being received by another vehicle. The summary and findings for the trial are available in the trial report.

ACMA comment regarding licensing of over-broadcasting devices

In general, the ACMA supports the development and trialling of technologies and welcomes trials over-broadcasting a ‘mock’ station such as the Eldorado trial or trials using bands other than the broadcasting service bands.

The ACMA needs to exercise caution in considering trials involving the over-broadcast of existing radio stations and the longer term authorisation of over-broadcasting devices. This includes the need to:

  • weigh the rights of broadcasters to provide their authorised service against any public benefit from over-broadcasting that service with emergency alerts; and
  • consider the extent to which the Emergency Service Organisations (ESOs) support over-broadcasting as a technology for delivering emergency alerts, noting that such over-broadcasting:
    • may disrupt emergency information currently provided by broadcasters under already established arrangements with ESOs, potentially causing confusion within the community;
    • may only be able to be received when tuned to some stations and not others, due to what the ACMA understands are capacity limitations in the number of stations that may be over-broadcast simultaneously, and that it does not over-broadcast AM or DAB+ digital services;
  • consider the views of the commercial, community and national broadcasters and telecommunication organisations.

The ACMA considers that any proposal for a nation-wide rollout of over-broadcasting emergency alert systems would require support from state governments and ESOs and evidence to demonstrate detailed discussions with affected broadcasters and their peak representative bodies.

Even with the support of ESOs and broadcasters the ACMA would need to work through considerable regulatory challenges to permanently authorise a device that purposely interferes with broadcast transmissions.

Last updated: 09 August 2016