Spectrum Update Proposed: Recommendations Made By Report
The Spectrum Review Report highlights the need to simplify the spectrum management framework, recommending removal of current prescriptive regulatory arrangements and support of the use of new and innovative technologies and services across the economy.
The report – the outcome of a review conducted by the Department of Communications in conjunction with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, including stakeholder consultation – recommends simplifying processes for new and existing spectrum users and increasing opportunities for market-based arrangements, including spectrum sharing and trading.
Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull announced the review of the framework last year, stating at the time its purpose was to “ease the compliance burden on users and improve accessibility for new technologies”.
“The spectrum framework was last formally reviewed by the Productivity Commission in 2002,” Turnbull commented at the time. “This was two years before Google went public and five years before the first iPhone was released.
“Clearly, the world has changed and it is time to take a comprehensive look at whether Australia’s spectrum policy and management framework remains fit for the digital age.”
Among the reports’ main recommendations are to replace the current legislative arrangements with streamlined legislation focused on outcomes rather than process for a simpler and more flexible framework.
It also recommends better integration of the management of public sector and broadcasting spectrum to improve the consistency and integrity of the framework, and to review spectrum pricing to ensure consistent and transparent arrangements to support the efficient use of spectrum and secondary markets.
Free TV Australia has welcomed recommendations made by the report.
“These recommendations recognise the important role free TV broadcasters continue to play in the lives of Australians and the contribution we make to the entire television ecosystem,” Free TV chairman Harold Mitchell stated.
Mitchell stated Free TV “will carefully consider the details of the proposed new licensing framework”.
“It’s important that any new licensing system enables us to continue to provide these important services for free to all Australians,” he commented.
“Certainty of access to spectrum is critical in a fragmenting market where many of the new global players make little or no contribution to Australian content, are unregulated, and pay little or no tax in our country.”
The government is currently considering the report and will prepare a response in due course, with stakeholder feedback welcomed.
The report can be found here.