The demand for the use of frequencies in the radiofrequency spectrum both here in Australia and internationally has increased dramatically in recent years and continues to increase at a rapid rate. A significant influence driving this growing demand is the deregulation on a global basis of the telecommunications industry; this is particularly relevant to Australia at this time, with an open, fully competitive regime to come into effect in mid 1997. Advances in technology, particularly for telecommunications mobile services, with digital techniques and increasing semiconductor integration allowing for economic enhancement of radiocommunications devices, are leading to more frequent changes in network platforms and air interfaces, invariably involving new or changed spectrum requirements. These developments are fostering the emergence of a rapidly growing consumer market for spectrum based telecommunications services, to an extent consistently beyond business projections. A particular challenge arising from these developments is that competing technologies from different regions, eg., USA, Europe and Japan, make claims for the same or similar spectrum bands, quite often for incompatible systems. In a country with a small population base such as Australia, this situation presents difficult questions for the SMA to address in terms of spectrum access and equity. This competing demand is most evident in the popular frequency bands, ie., those most suited technically to these new uses, to the extent that the trend in spectrum planning is to pursue arrangements whereby spectrum can be shared. Of course, sharing is not always possible; in those cases where competing services in common bands cannot in fact effectively share the spectrum, then mechanisms are needed to decide the most appropriate use. The SMA is increasingly looking to market methods to determine these decisions. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the spectrum management issues relevant to telecommunications developments, with particular regard to the post 1997 competitive environment. It identifies those parts of the spectrum currently utilised wholly or significantly by telecommunications services, addresses current planning activities for new and changing services and looks at possible future demands and the arrangements being put in place to preserve options for introduction of developing systems. The various approaches to facilitating and regulating spectrum access for these services are also discussed. The paper is intended primarily to provide information on current and envisaged SMA policies and planning activities in regard to telecommunications spectrum management. It does not seek to promote any particular positions related to new developments, but where appropriate the SMA’s current thinking on these matters is given. Comments on the paper are most welcome.

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