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Australian Police and Emergency Services Fight to Claim a Part of the 700MHz Band of Spectrum Known as the Digital Dividend

Canberra, Australia (News4us.com) March 13, 2011

700MHz band of spectrum 21 Australian Police and Emergency Services Fight to Claim a Part of the 700MHz Band of Spectrum Known as the Digital Dividend

Australian Police and Emergency Services Fight to Claim a Part of the 700MHz Band of Spectrum Known as the Digital Dividend

As Australia changes from anologue to digital TV, the debate continues to heat up on the future upcoming auction of the hotly contested block of 700MHz band of spectrum, known as the digital dividend.

Telecommunications carriers and broadcasters have their eye on the prize for the benefit of their continued long term growth and profits. The Federal Government is being accused of looking at it from a strictly economic point of view, of how many millions of dollars each block and especially the high 700 MHz band will attract.

While on the other hand we have the police and emergency service agencies and the public who they serve and protect, especially in times of natural disasters who could end up being the biggest losers.

The auction for the block of 700Mhz band is expected to be hotly contested by the Telco’s due to its high speed data and video streaming capabilities and will be worth many millions of dollars.

Police and Emergency service communications only require a small part of the overall band to best provide their services when most needed in times of natural disaster, like Australia has recently experienced.

Following is an alert published by the Police Federation of Australia on the subject.

PLEA TO THE GILLARD LABOR GOVERNMENT MPS AND SENATORS:

ALERT: DON’T NEGLECT PUBLIC SAFETY

− The move from analogue to digital TV is freeing up the 700 MHz radio spectrum known as the Digital Dividend. It is the ‘waterfront property’ of radio spectrum – the most valued.

− 126 MHz of this spectrum will become available.

− This spectrum is ideal for carrying large amounts of data, at high speed, over long distances and can penetrate buildings – features that police and emergency services need to safeguard public safety, particularly during critical incidents when other communications systems are congested or break down e.g. the Victorian bushfires, the Brisbane floods, Cyclone Yasi and the Christchurch earthquake when the 000 service was down in the critical first five hours.

− Police and emergency services communications currently use the 400 MHz spectrum. The problem is that it doesn’t have those features. It is limited to voice communications – not data, video or high speed mobile broadband.

− That’s why all Australia’s Police Commissioners, including the AFP, are seeking 20 MHz of the 126 MHz. That is just 16% of the spectrum that will soon be available.

− The peak bodies representing the ambulance and fire services are also calling for this. It is clearly in the national interest to do so. COAG says emergency services communications should be seamless.

− The major telcos, like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, will be bidding for the spectrum at auction. But police and emergency services won’t be able to compete with them.

− The Radiocommunications Act 1992 of the Keating Government recognised this problem – so one of the objects of the Act is provision of spectrum for law enforcement and emergency services at a non-commercial price.

− Cabinet is soon to consider whether or not to provide 700 MHz spectrum for these public safety agencies, and if so how.

− The only argument for not doing so is to maximize revenue from the auction as a contribution to deficit reduction. But under our plan to reserve 20 MHz, 84% will still be available for auction.

Please ensure your Government does not put profit before public safety.


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