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Regulator goes hard on spectrum management

Regulator goes hard on spectrum management

Faced with an explosion in the uptake of radio frequency-based devices and applications such as wireless broadband and mobile communication devices, the Australian Communications Authority has launched its big-picture strategy for managing radio frequency (RF) spectrum in Australia.

Unlike other technological staples such as storage and cable-based bandwidth, RF capacity is physically finite by its nature and cannot be increased by adding extra resources.

As such, excessive traffic or load on particular frequencies carries with it the inherent risk of swamping a frequency thus making it inoperable, which leads to the need for strict rules governing the spectrum's use.

The ACA document entitled, From DC to Daylight – accounting for the use of the spectrum in Australia, details the current use of spectrum in Australia where demand for spectrum is growing.

ACA acting chair Bob Horton told Computerworld that RF had now become an essential economic resource and part of that had to be managed carefully and prudently with a greater need for education.

"Spectrum is vital for modern communications, economies and lifestyle. Until now very few people have known how this valuable resource is being managed and used," Horton said, adding that the ACA would be taking a "problem-solving approach" to spectrum development.

The new ACA approach will also see closer bonds formed with renowned RF hog, the Department of Defence which has repeatedly warned it will increasingly require considerably more spectrum as military technology moves closer towards more commercial offerings.

The ACA will now formally liase with Defence as to its spectrum requirements in an effort to halt the recent spate of turf wars and bickering surrounding competition for frequencies between Defence and commercial applications.

These include the ability of defence forces to utilize digital wireless spectrum to transmit data, signals and voices as part of the rapidly evolving doctrine of Network Centric Warfare.

Other notable rows include the ACA's long-running quarrel with the NSW Department of Corrective Services over the proposed introduction of mobile phone jammers. Traditionally used in electronic warfare to lay waste to enemy communications, the ACA has to date forbidden the civilian introduction of such phone jammers saying they have the potential to cripple unrelated emergency and commercial radio communication services.

The ACA spectrum strategy is available at www.aca.gov.au


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