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WIA meets with ACMA over Non-assigned Amateur Licence Consultation

Date : 01 / 06 / 2021
Author : WIA Spectrum Group

WIA Meets ACMA over
the Non-assigned Amateur Licence Consultation



The Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) met recently with relevant staff from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the regulatory authority for radio spectrum in Australia, to discuss its public consultation process regarding the review of non-assigned amateur and outpost stations regulatory arrangements Note1.

The aim of the meeting was to seek clarity on aspects of the ACMA’s proposal that were unclear; to discuss specific areas of concern; and to understand the next steps in the process.

The ACMA staff began by stating that they appreciated the detailed WIA submission, and thanked us for the very thorough response. They reaffirmed the intention that the utility of an amateur licence will not be changed by this process, an important consideration raised in the WIA submission.

Further, the ACMA staff indicated that the current review is part of the ACMA’s ongoing review of our regulatory arrangements to ensure they continue to be fit for purpose.

In seeking to better understand the ACMA position, the WIA asked questions about Class licensing and how interference management in particular would change, given statements in the ACMA’s proposal.

The ACMA staff indicated that they are fully aware of the importance of interference issues to the amateur community and explained that current interference management policies and processes would certainly remain, even if the amateur service transitioned to a Class licence. Those responsibilities are set down separately in the Radiocommunications Act, and apply regardless of licence type.

When specifically asked about its “no interference, no protection” statement, the ACMA clarified that this relates to both class licensed devices and the non-assigned nature of individual amateur transmitters. Unlike fixed station Apparatus licences (assigned licenses for both repeater and beacon stations), which have specifically assigned and coordinated frequencies that minimises the potential for interstation interference, the ACMA said that non assigned licenses do not, of their nature, involve that level of spectrum management. As a result, there is no need to use the more prescriptive assigned Apparatus licence concept. There is no additional benefit that arises as part of the authorisation of a service by a non-assigned apparatus license compared to a class license.

It is clear that this distinction has been missed by the Amateur service. The ACMA admitted that the use of “no interference, no protection”, which is regularly used to describe class licensing arrangements, was an unfortunate description of the situation in the consultation paper that unnecessarily contributed to the concerns raised by the amateur community. The provisions of the Radiocommunications Act relating to interference management apply to class licensed services and transmitters or any apparatus license which includes a “no interference, no protection” statement

The WIA and the ACMA staff then went on to discuss various other matters, including the listing of Amateur Stations within the Register of Radiocommunications Licences (RRL), call signs, reciprocal licensing and the value, utility and uses that the RRL provides to the Amateur service. This was fruitful and will lead to further discussions with ACMA on this area.

The meeting also covered the topics of the ACMA’s proposed Amateur “Accredited Persons” scheme for managing repeater and beacon applications, and the need for supporting documentation to enable changes to how these are handled. The proposed amateur operator handbook was also briefly discussed.

Finally, the next steps in this consultation process were discussed. The ACMA staff advised that it is currently reviewing the submissions received to the public consultation. Once that review is complete, the submissions will be published by the ACMA. The ACMA also noted that the next update is likely during the 3rd quarter of 2021.

The WIA thanked the ACMA for the opportunity to discuss the issues of concern within the Amateur community, and expressed its desire to hold follow up meetings focusing on particular aspects of our submission and of the proposed reform.

Overall, the meeting was very positive and productive, and the WIA is looking forward to working with ACMA further on these matters.


Wireless Institute of Australia
31 May 2021



Notes
1. Australian Communications and Media Authority Consultation number IFC 01/2021
Review of non-assigned amateur and outpost regulatory arrangements Link







Page Last Updated: Sunday, 06 Jun 2021 at 09:39 hours by Peter Clee

 

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