ACMA reviewing public safety class licence 4.9 GHz band.
Australian Radio Communications Industry Association
Back in 2013, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) allocated 50 MHz of spectrum at 4.9 GHz for public safety purposes, and under the legislation a class licence was initiated for access to that spectrum. Class licences must be reviewed and renewed every 10 years, so the present licence expires in October of this year. The class licence permits access to the spectrum by suitable equipment without needing a specific licence or to pay any fees, so it is ideal for local communications systems for emergency use.
As part of the review, the ACMA believed the licence should be renewed but is also suggesting that the permitted uses should be increased to include wireless broadband under 5G/LTE formats. The documentation for the review is available on the ACMA website and the enquiry is open for submissions until 21 July 2023.
The Australian Radio Communications Industry Association (ARCIA) has indicated that it supports the proposals put forward as part of the discussion paper and will be putting a submission in as part of the process. ARCIA suggests that any interested parties should respond and give the ACMA as wide a range of opinions as possible. If you are not able to put in a submission but would like to contribute, you can contact ARCIA and the association will see if it can include your thoughts in its industry response.
ARCIA notes that there are a couple of items included in the discussion questions relating to the permission to use fixed stations in the band; specifically that if they are going to be in place for more than six months then they should be licensed under the apparatus licence format. There is also the mention that utilisation of the 4.9 GHz public safety band is restricted to organisations or members of recognised emergency services or the Defence forces. These organisations can authorise someone to operate equipment on their behalf, but the authorisation is only valid for six months and must then be reauthorised again.
ARCIA emphasizes that the 4.9 GHz band is especially valuable to our public safety agencies and that even now they are only starting to recognize the options available and how they will assist in future emergency situations. ARCIA firmly believes that, utilized correctly, the options will vastly improve both the safety and operations of our emergency services, and strongly recommends that interested parties should respond to this discussion process.