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Government consulting industry on spectrum reform

The federal government has embarked on an industry consultation process ahead of bringing in changes aimed at reforming Australia’s spectrum management system, a key part of the country's telecommunications and communications infrastructure.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield says the proposed reforms would simplify the regulatory framework to support new and innovative technologies and services.

A consultation package has been released this week and includes an Exposure Draft of the Radiocommunications Bill and related papers including broadcasting spectrum and transitional arrangements.

The government has also released consultation papers on government spectrum holdings and spectrum pricing.

According to Fifield, the reform proposals would involve the undertaking of the “most significant change” to Australian spectrum management in the last 25 years.

The consultation package has been developed in consultation with the Australian Communication and Media Authority.

The ACMA has prepared supplementary material to assist stakeholders in better understanding the exposure draft.

The proposed reforms follow the recommendations of the government’s 2015 Spectrum Review to:

  • Replace the current legislative arrangements with new legislation that removes prescriptive process and streamlines licensing for a simpler and more flexible framework;
  • Better integrate the management of public sector and broadcasting spectrum to improve the consistency and integrity of the framework; and 
  • Review spectrum pricing to ensure consistent and transparent arrangements to support the efficient use of spectrum and secondary markets.                                                                                                

As part of the consultation process, the Department of Communications and the Arts will host a series of presentations over the coming weeks to introduce stakeholders to the Bill and related material.

Consultation will run for six weeks until the end of June and the government says it intends to present a further Exposure Draft to stakeholders for comment before finalising the legislation for introduction to Parliament.

“Spectrum is essential to today’s digitally-networked economy and is a major contributor to Australia’s economic and social wellbeing,” Fifield said.

“It is a finite resource that needs to be managed efficiently. The use of spectrum underpins many aspects of our daily lives including the use of phones, television,  radio and simply checking the weather.”

To access the government’s full consultation package click here.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).