Department of Infrastructure voices caution on spectrum reform

The government should not apply market-based pricing to spectrum needed for public safety and national security as part of its spectrum reform, according to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

The agency responded to the government’s spectrum reform proposals in a submission today. Spectrum reform has largely been supported by the telecom industry.

The government seeks to modernise the current framework, established in 1992 under the Radiocommunications (RadComms) Act, to reflect changes in technology, markets and consumer preferences, as well as increasing demand for spectrum from all sectors. The framework was last reviewed by the Productivity Commission in 2002.

While the Department of Infrastructure supported most of the proposals in the review, the government body cautioned that spectrum used for public safety must be treated differently to spectrum used for commercial purposes.

Competition and market-based pricing could drive efficiencies for commercial spectrum, it said.

“However, this is not necessarily true of spectrum supporting significant functionality in the public and community domain, including safety-of-life functions, where application of a market-based pricing approach may [compromise] safety outcomes within the national, regional and global framework.

“The Department would not support a market-based approach to ‘public good’ users such as aviation. Charging arrangements are unlikely to deliver any efficiency benefit within the aeronautical bands, or more broadly, within the safety bandwidth.”

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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