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Managing spectrum in the 400 MHz band

A 400 MHz band review was finalised in 2010. The objectives were to improve harmonisation, help with radiocommunications interoperability and minimise the need for further ACMA intervention in the band. 

The most recent paper containing decisions on reforms to be implemented in the band was released in November 2016.

Guideline on establishing the status of a licensee

The 400 MHz Band Plan provides for a phased transition to the new arrangements. Some currently licensed services will need to relocate into appropriate band segments based on the status of the licensee. To determine whether or not you are required to relocate, you must first be aware of your government/non-government status in the context of the 400 MHz band.

Licensees classified as government, will need to relocate services out of non-government spectrum. Licensees classified as non-government will need to relocate services out of government spectrum.

The purpose of the Guideline for exceptions to transition milestones 2 and 3 is to assist in determining whether a licensee is defined as government or non-government in the context of its use of the 400 MHz band.

Government Representative regarding Harmonised Government Spectrum (HGS)

If you are classified as government, you are required to consult with your State/Territory Government National Coordinating Committee for Government Radiocommunications (NCCGR) Representative for guidance on 400 MHz spectrum access. The Government Representative coordinates and endorses the use of government spectrum within its jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction

Contact person

E-mail

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Brett Dawson

brett.dawson@act.gov.au

Northern Territory (NT)

Alex Skultety

 Alex.Skultety@pfes.nt.gov.au

New South Wales (NSW)

James Corkill

telco.spectrum@customerservice.nsw.gov.au

Victoria (VIC)

Alastair Craw

alastair.craw@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Queensland (QLD)

Rod Muller

rod.muller@qgcio.qld.gov.au

South Australia (SA)

Stuart Fillmore

stuart.fillmore@sa.gov.au

Western Australia (WA)

Joseph Patroni

joseph.patroni@jtsi.wa.gov.au

Tasmania (TAS)

Peter Roberts

p.roberts@police.tas.gov.au

 

Your licence

Check if your licence is affected by the 400 MHz arrangements

Enter your client or licence number into our online tool to check on your requirements for transition.

Change your licence

You can update your licence with the assistance of an accredited person. An accredited person will issue a frequency assignment certificate (FAC), which is then submitted to us for allocation to comply with 400 MHz implementation requirements.

You can also complete one of the relevant application forms (Land Mobile or Fixed). 

Submit your application to the 400 MHz implementation team by:

Mail: 400 MHz implementation team
PO Box 78
Belconnen ACT 2616
Email: 400mhzimplementation@acma.gov.au

Under the apparatus licence fee schedule, the licence variation without FAC where we perform technical coordination, the applicable charge is for first issue of the licence. This information is set out in our Fees Schedule under Division 9 (Table 9.2) and Division 4 (Table 3.1).

Transition deadline

The transition deadlines were:

  • High-density and medium-density areas and within 100km boundary - 31 December 2012, 2014 and 2015.
  • Low-density and remote-density areas - 31 December 2013, 2015 and 2018.

If you didn’t change your licence before the deadline, you will be operating in a manner inconsistent with the 400 MHz plan. We continue to manage transition through our apparatus licence renewal process under sections 129 and 130 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992.

We’ve produced guidelines to outline the circumstances under which we’ll consider exceptions to transition deadlines and renew an apparatus licences under section 130 of the Radiocommunications Act. If an exception is granted, the relevant licence will be renewed for a fixed time period only.

To request the surrender of a licence, please notify us by sending an email to info@acma.gov.au. Provide your client number and the list of licenses would like to surrender. In cases, where a licence is surrendered early and a pro-rata credit applies, we’ll calculate the appropriate refund and send you a cheque.

History

The 400 MHz band was congested in the major capital cities. In response to this and requests from industry and users of the band, we began a review of the band in 2008 with the broad objectives of implementing measures to:

  • improve government spectrum harmonisation to facilitate more efficient government networks and improved interoperability
  • improve the efficiency with which the band is allocated and used
  • facilitate new technologies and complementary uses
  • minimise the need for ongoing ACMA intervention in the band

One of the key achievements of the review was the provision of harmonised spectrum for use by government agencies. The ACMA believes strongly that dedicated harmonised spectrum of appropriate size and structure is critical to enabling interoperable radiocommunications between national security, law enforcement and emergency services.

Under the new arrangements, several segments in 403–470 MHz have been identified for the exclusive use of government, primarily to support national security, law enforcement and emergency services, but also available to support broader government use once these requirements are met.

We developed these arrangements in close consultation with individual stakeholders, relevant committees and peak industry groups. The final arrangements complement the objectives developed by these groups and the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed national framework for improved radiocommunications interoperability.

As well as substantial changes to the overall structure of the band through the creation of harmonised government spectrum and revised frequency splits, the outcomes of the review include improvements to underlying technical arrangements in the band. This included a reduction in channel bandwidths and updates to the assignment and coordination rules.

Another key outcome of the review was an increase in the technology options able to be supported in the band. Changing the frequency duplex arrangements in the 450–470 MHz band and changing the channelling scheme opened up options for technologies requiring such arrangements.

400/803-960 MHz Tune-up

We held a 400/ 803-960 MHz Tune-up in March 2016. The Tune-up provided information on:

  • the transition requirements for milestones 2 and 3
  • license renewal process during compliance window
  • the exceptions policy
  • progress of milestone 2
  • a general Q&A session on 400 MHz issues
  • outcomes of the 803-960 MHz band review
  • future implementation plan for the 803-960 MHz band

The Tune-up presentation is available here.

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