Turnbull commences review of spectrum management

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has commenced a review into the government's spectrum management policy for mobile technology use.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The Australian Communications and Media Authority with the Department of Communications will review Australia's spectrum management with a view to make it more adaptive and flexible in accommodating new technologies.

Australia's spectrum is currently managed by the ACMA, with spectrum allocated, licenced, auctioned, and sold off depending on the requirement. In addition to being used for mobile telecommunication services, it is also used by Defence, transport, mining, and emergency services across the country.

The framework surrounding spectrum management was last reviewed in 2002, and Turnbull said today that given this was before the release of the first iPhone, it was time for a comprehensive review.

"The review is an important step in boosting innovation and productivity which, in turn, benefits the broader community. It is part of the government's commitment to streamlining regulation and cutting red tape," he said in a statement.

The terms of reference of the review task the ACMA to look at how to reduce the complexity of the framework, and eliminate excessive regulatory provisions, as well as make the framework more flexible to allow companies to be able to access spectrum for emerging technologies, while at the same time providing certainty for the spectrum licence holders like Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone.

The review will also examine whether all spectrum owners are using the spectrum they hold efficiently, and the review will examine whether the Communications Minister has an appropriate level of oversight over spectrum policy.

In reaction to ongoing debate over the allocation of spectrum for emergency services' networks, the review has been tasked to develop a framework to consider public interest spectrum issues.

Turnbull said today that the ACMA and the department will have six to nine months to report back to government after engaging with stakeholders. Submissions on the terms of reference are due by June 20, 2014.

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