DAB+ trials in Canberra and Darwin
The ACMA has authorised trials of DAB+ in two regional licence areas where sufficient spectrum was available— Canberra and Darwin. Commercial Radio Australia is conducting the trials. The Canberra trial commenced on 19 July 2010. In February 2011, the ACMA approved an increase in power for the Canberra trial from 1 kW to 3kW. The Darwin trial commenced on 13 August 2010. Both trials have been extended until 30 June 2017. The Department of Communications 2015 Digital Radio Report recommended that the government should consider licensing permanent services in Canberra and Darwin as a priority. The ACMA is now working with industry to facilitate the permanent licensing of these trial services.
Auction of excess capacity on foundation multiplexes
Under the Radiocommunications Act 1992, all current commercial and community radio broadcasting licence holders are entitled to access a specified fraction of the capacity of the foundation digital radio multiplex transmitter (DRMT) licence. These fractions are called standard access entitlements.
When the multiplex capacity exceeds the aggregate of the standard access entitlements, there may be ‘excess capacity’ on a DRMT. The Act allows the DRMT licensee to auction any excess capacity.
When digital radio broadcasting commenced in Australia, there was excess multiplex capacity in each of the five metropolitan licence areas. The available excess capacity was:
- one-ninth of one DRMT in Adelaide (128 kbps)
- six-ninths divided between two DRMTs in Brisbane (768 kbps)
- three-ninths divided between two DRMTs in Melbourne (384 kbps)
- three-ninths divided between two DRMTs in Sydney (384 kbps)
- one-ninth of one DRMT in Perth (128 kbps).
On 27 November 2009, the excess capacity was auctioned by the DRMT licensees. Incumbent radio broadcasting licence holders were eligible to purchase up to one-ninth each (128 kbps).
All excess capacity in Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney was sold to incumbent commercial licensees. Most of the excess capacity in Brisbane (640 kbps) was also sold to incumbent commercial licensees, with the remaining one-ninth (128 kbps) being passed in.
DAB+ in-store repeaters
DAB+ in-store repeaters are transmitters that ensure DAB+ coverage in heavily shielded rooms, such as shopping centres, where DAB+ receivers are likely to be sold.
The ACMA has authorised the operation of DAB+ in-store repeaters since 1 July 2009, licensed under a low interference potential devices (LIPD) class licence.
To enable these operations, the ACMA varied the Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) Class Licence 2000 by the Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) Class Licence Variation Notice 2009 (No. 1).
In October 2013, the ACMA varied the foundation digital radio multiplex transmitter licences to authorise the operation of on-channel repeaters to boost digital radio coverage in dense urban areas, as well as extending coverage in geographically-challenging environments and at the boundaries of the licence areas in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. On-channel repeaters are now operating:
- Sydney—CBD (Sydney Tower)
- Sydney—CBD (Redfern)
- Sydney—Northern beaches (Collaroy)
- Sydney—Northern beaches (Newport)
- Sydney—Western Sydney (Winmalee)
- Sydney—Southern Sydney (Mt Badgelly)
- Melbourne—CBD (Fishermans Bend)
- Melbourne—Bacchus Marsh/Melton (Bacchus Marsh)
- Brisbane—Caboolture and the road north
- Perth—CBD (Central Park).