AMTA's Spectrum Policy

The Spectrum Review 2014-2017

AMTA has been a strong advocate for reform of Australia’s spectrum management framework and therefore welcomed the Government’s decision to conduct a Spectrum Review in 2014.

Since the Government's announcement in 2014, the review process has continued into 2016 and the Department of Communications has indicated that a draft Bill is likely to be released for public comment towards the end of 2016 with legislation anticipated in early 2017.

AMTA has been an active participant throughout the Spectrum Review process and strongly supports the Government’s ongoing commitment to fundamental reform of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 and the regulatory framework for the allocation and management of spectrum.

AMTA believes that reform has the potential to deliver:

  • more timely and efficient allocation processes;
  • reduced costs for industry, the ACMA and the Australian Government; and
  • more flexibility to enable the deployment and adoption of new technologies.

 

The short-comings of the existing licensing framework are well understood. The timely allocation and management of spectrum has been hindered by:

  • excessive prescriptiveness and rigidity in licence design and band planning;
  • uncertainty and inconsistency in licence pricing; and
  • blurred boundaries of responsibility between the Australian Government and the ACMA in the allocation of spectrum.

 

AMTA considers reform of the licensing regime as fundamental to reform of the spectrum management framework.

AMTA has submitted to Government that the object of the Bill should be:

To promote the overall public interest derived from the radiofrequency spectrum resource by facilitating the economically efficient allocation and sustainable use of spectrum.

AMTA has submitted that a reformed licensing framework should comprise the following key elements:

  • Simplicity. Only a limited number of licence issue schemes.
  • Technology neutrality. Subject to our international treaty obligations, the framework should avoid using purpose-based licence-issue schemes.
  • Flexibility. Licences should support multi-purpose use through flexible, "common denominator" conditions that facilitate re-farming or re-allocation without the need for regulatory intervention.
  • Future-focussed. To accommodate technological progress, licence holders should be permitted to change licence conditions by agreement with the ACMA.[1]
  • Certainty. The Bill should include a legislative presumption of re-issue for licences to promote investment and maintain the transferability of licences particularly toward the end of the licence term. The presumption of re-issue should only be set aside if the ACMA undertakes a consultation process to determine, that it is not in the public interest for the licence to be re-issued. In the case of 20 year licences, we believe the consultation process should be commenced no later than five years before the licence is due to expire.
  • Universality. The ACMA should favour the allocation of spectrum even in circumstances where the immediate demand for its use is not clear. Making spectrum available before the case for its use is clear is consistent with the Government's desire to foster and facilitate innovation.

 

Read AMTA’s submissions to the Spectrum Review here.

 

 

[1] The ACMA should only agree to the proposed changes if the change satisfies a "no harms" criteria (i.e., neighbouring users are not adversely impacted by the change). Any changes to an individual's licence should be reflected in amendments to the licence issue scheme to promote equivalence and offered to other licence holders to ensure non-discrimination. (Individual licences should not be amended if the proposed changes undermine the transferability of the licence).