Facilitating spectrum changes
Although Australian spectrum is already heavily used, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA)'s planning and licensing framework routinely enables over-the-counter licensing for established services services where spectrum is available.
The ACMA has a forward planning function that tries to anticipate future demand such as the growth of current services or possible new service types. The following diagram illustrates the overall planning activity.
There is often dynamic growth in demand for spectrum and it can be difficult to accommodate new services. Where spectrum is in use and is required for a new type of application, there may be the need to clear out incumbent users to make way for the new service. The main ways to facilitate change are:
deciding not to renew existing licences (which can be appealed by licence holders)
making or modifying band plans to specify the new types of services to be operated in particular bands - these plans may contain transitional arrangements
designating the band for spectrum licensing - incumbents might be allowed to convert to a spectrum licence or may be subject to relocation
trading in the secondary market - both apparatus licences and spectrum licences may be traded (but apparatus licences might not support a desired new application).
The ACMA website contains information on bands already subject to or being considered for spectrum licensing.
Irrespective of what approach is taken to clear incumbents, it is usually a difficult exercise requiring extensive consultation with affected parties because of the disruption and cost they may face. The Radiocommunications Act 1999 (the Act) requires that incumbents subject to relocation in bands designated for spectrum licensing must have a minimum of two years notice. The Act does not provide for compensation to incumbents who are forced to move.
Last updated: 14 April 2016