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Government Releases Proposals for New Radiocommunications Legislation

Date : 11 / 03 / 2016
Author : Roger Harrison - VK2ZRH

The government has begun the final stages of reforming radiocommunications legislation, releasing a consultations paper outlining its proposals for future planning, licensing and regulation, and the roles of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Minister.

The Minister for Communications, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, announced the publication of the paper during a speech at the ACMA's RadComms 2016 Conference on Thursday 10 March.

A new Act is to be drafted following completion of consultation; the Radiocommunications Act 1992 will be repealed.

"A new Radiocommunications Bill will modernise our regime, and allow industry greater scope to respond quickly in the market to emerging technologies and services, the Minister said.

"The simpler, more clearly structured Act will remove unnecessary process and prescriptive detail. It will better support new investment
in spectrum-based networks by allowing new technologies to be deployed and spectrum to be allocated more quickly."

The Department of Communications says the new legislation seeks to make Australia' s spectrum framework simpler, more efficient and flexible to use and better support innovative communication
technologies and services.

The proposed approach in preparing draft legislation is to:

  simplify regulatory structures for planning, licensing and equipment regulation;

  streamline regulatory processes, particularly for allocating licences;

  clarify the role for government, the ACMA and spectrum users;

  bring broadcasting spectrum into the general spectrum framework while also providing certainty for the broadcasting sector; and

  provide for graduated and proportionate enforcement and compliance tools.

The majority of recommendations in the Spectrum Review Report of May 2015, have been incorporated in the proposals. The paper does not cover spectrum or licence pricing issues.

The objects of the new legislation will include arrangements for providing spectrum for public or community purposes.

As expected, apparatus and spectrum licensing will disappear, to be replaced by parameters-based licensing. Class licensing will not be incorporated into the new system, to be replaced with 'spectrum authorisations' with allowance for the ACMA to determine whether an authorisation or licensing is appropriate for given applications.

To encourage greater user involvement in spectrum management, the government proposes to continue to enable the ACMA to accredit other persons to issues certificates, and to delegate certain spectrum management functions so that 'private band managers' can deliver services or functions more efficiently.

It's going to be a brave new world in radiocommunications !

Feedback on the Consultation Paper is sought, with a deadline of COB Friday 29 April 2016.

The Consultation Paper can be downloaded here: Link


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