Just this month a group of our compliance and field operations inspectors attended the Phillip Island MotoGP to ensure that critical spectrum users, all the MotoGP Teams and major Australian and international broadcasters were clear from spectrum interference.
It turned out to be a very busy few days indeed.
With thousands of people (and hundreds of devices) from all around the world converging in one area—the reliance on all things radiocommunications was at a maximum. These devices were used to broadcast the race, and of course, communicate secret strategies between riders and their teams!
We found one of the teams was operating a motorbike video cameras using North American class frequencies. This was safely moved so that there was no interference to Optus and Vodafone services, which hold licences for that part of the 900 MHz band to provide mobile services (also important!).
Then we were called upon to track down interference to Grand Prix FM, a low powered open narrowcasting radio service. These services are also known as LPONs and this one provided a local radio service for people attending the race. It turned out that an antenna was being used in the incorrect location and was the wrong type, oops! Once this was fixed the interference stopped, however it goes to show how delicately-balanced the spectrum is at these types of events.
Mauro Ruggerio with a Dethray 2000 exterminating unwanted spectrum
It’s not always so black and white when it comes to enforcement. In another situation we had to use our negotiation skills (and more than a bit of charm) to negotiate between two companies looking to use the same frequency. One of these companies was responsible for filming and broadcasting the race for the entire world to watch and had a frequency assigned to it. Unfortunately this was causing interference elsewhere and couldn’t be used, so they then needed to find a spare frequency, which also turned out to also clash with one already allocated to another company.
Our officers were cool in this crisis and negotiated with Channel 10, (who were covering the race for Australia), to let the filming occur on one of its frequencies. Phew! Thank you Channel 10! As well as freeing up international coverage it also meant eager fans could see aerial footage of the race!
In the field: Darwin and beyond
Just recently, two of our technical officers travelled to the hot and humid capital city to monitor our equipment capabilities and to make sure that all was working as it should with IT connectivity to allow us to remotely monitor the length and breadth of Australia.
Then it was straight off to the Northern Territory’s Cox Peninsula (west of Darwin) where the ACMA High Frequency Direction Finding and VHF/UHF monitoring site is located. Here they met with nbn engineers to arrange wireless connectivity for the Darwin and Cox Peninsula sites. nbn are providing this important service.
Darwin, Northern Territory
Did you know ...
Our field and technical officer’s travel all over Australia to:
- identify and fix interference and reception issues
- track down illegal or unlicensed radiocommunications devices
- work on our annual Priority Compliance Areas that focuses on high risk to the spectrum and public safety
- Engage with industry about their compliance obligations; and
- Ensure consumers are aware that devices purchased overseas might not be able to be used in Australia.
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And further interference blogs can be found here: http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/engage-blogs/engage-blogs/Interference
This blog has been written by the ACMA’s Holly Buckle, Assistant Manager Compliance and Field Operations. Holly writes about the work of the ACMA’s Field Officers to prevent and investigate interference to Australia’s mobile and broadcasting networks. You can follow news about the ACMA’s work in the field on Twitter at @acma_operations.