Saving a portion of the 700MHz spectrum for public safety purposes is a terrible idea and would be “incredibly disruptive” for the telecommunications industry, according to Communications Alliance.
The 700MHz will be freed up due to the analogue to digital TV switchover and will be up for auction soon
Police and emergency services organisations have appealed to Parliament in a bid to save 20MHz of spectrum to set up a standalone wireless network.
The objective is to use it to facilitate communication services during crisis situations and for crime prevention purposes.. These include high-speed video streaming in places hit by natural disasters.
But the 700MHz spectrum is highly coveted by private telcos as they look to rollout out 4G LTE wireless networks.
Speaking at the CommsDay Summit 2011, Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, condemned the proposal by emergency services.
“Everything I’ve seen in this issue suggests to me that it would be a policy fumble of gothic proportions if cabinet were to allow the police to get hold of this spectrum,” he said. “It would be incredibly disruptive for our industry and for many of the players in this room.
“The thing about this is it’s not even a good proposal.”
Stanton claimed if the 20MHz was to be reserved it would have “damaging consequences” for the telco industry without actually doing much good for police and emergency services organisations. He recommended the use of another band of spectrum.
“For a start it would put Australia out of step with our regional neighbours; none of the other countries are going down this path,” Stanton said. “A new network like this would duplicate existing and planned commercial networks pointlessly and would be an enormous waste of resources.
It also impedes possible collaboration between commercial telco providers and public safety organisations as well as limit competition in next-generation mobile services.
“It would reduce the commercial value of a public asset,” Stanton said. “I don’t know how much 700MHz band is going to bid for when it comes up for auction but I think all of us recognise it is going to be a fairly significant number.
“It is going to make a difference in terms of being able to return the Australian budget to surplus.”
Stanton called for people to lobby to parliament to block the proposal by public safety organisations.
The CommsDay Summit 2011 concludes on Wednesday.