Following consultations in late 2022 to remake the Radiocommunications (Mid-West Radio Quiet Zone) Frequency Band Plan 2011, the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) has released an outcomes paper detailing its decision.
- replacing the Radiocommunications (Mid-West Radio Quiet Zone) Frequency Band Plan 2011 with an updated version titled the Radiocommunications (Australian Radio Quiet Zone Western Australia) Frequency Band Plan 2023
- withdrawing Spectrum Embargo 41
- removing supplementary radio quiet zones.
According to ACMA, under Part 4, Chapter 3 of the Legislation Act 2003, most legislative instruments ‘sunset’. They are automatically repealed on 1 April or 1 October that first occurs 10 years after they are registered.
The Radiocommunications (Mid-West Radio Quiet Zone) Frequency Band Plan 2011 supports the Australian Radio Quiet Zone Western Australia (ARQZWA) and its viability for radio astronomy services.
The band plan is due to sunset on 1 April 2023. ACMA says its view is the band plan is operating effectively and efficiently. It continues to form a necessary and useful part of the legislative framework.
In a statement, it said, “We want to remake the band plan with minor changes. We would like to retitle it the Radiocommunications (Australian Radio Quiet Zone Western Australia) Frequency Band Plan 2023.”
In response to a call for submissions, Australian National Science Agency CSIRO said, “Overall CSIRO agrees with the ACMA’s preliminary view, expressed in the consultation paper, that ‘the band plan is operating effectively and efficiently, and continues to form a necessary and useful part of the legislative framework.’ CSIRO further agrees with the ACMA’s preliminary proposal to remake the band plan without any changes to the technical parameters (frequency, geographic), and to rename the band plan to align with the name used in RALI MS 32.”
Telecommunications carrier Telstra added, “One important technology that is not considered in the consultation paper is LEO and MEO satellite services. These services have the potential to transmit into the ARQZWA in the frequency range 70 MHz to 25.25 GHz. For example, some services are already available for the whole of Australia, and while at present, the terrestrial component of the service requires a reasonable sized external antenna, work is under way globally to develop direct-to-handset (DTH) capabilities in certain existing terrestrial mobile spectrum bands. Future LEO DTH services will not require any device registrations to be made within the ARQZWA (as devices operating below the registration exemption threshold are not required to be registered), and yet the serving LEO satellite could transmit RF energy into the ARQZWA, and it’s not clear that such activity would contravene any current licensing rules.
“It is not clear to us that existing licensing processes and band plans are sufficient to protect the ARQZWA from these services, or whether there is a need to consider this further and include new clauses in this band plan to protect the ARQZWA from these types of services.”