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Proposed changes to amateur access in the 3400–3575 MHz band

Proposed prohibited 3400-3475 3575-3600 MHz in AU

Proposed changes to amateur access in the 3400–3575 MHz band

Proposed changes to amateur access in the 3400–3575 MHz band

The ACMA is proposing changes to the VK 9cm amateur band. Below are excerpts from the whitepaper.  They are seeking comments by March 2, 2020.

The ACMA previously consulted on the planning arrangements for the 3400–3575 MHz band with the Optimising arrangements for the 3400-3575 MHz band options paper. This was followed by our Optimising arrangements for the 3400-3575 MHz band: Planning decisions and preliminary views paper, where we outlined our planning decisions and a detailed plan for optimising licensing arrangements.

As part of improving arrangements for the band, we are proposing to change the parts of the 3400–3575 MHz band that amateurs and overseas amateurs visiting Australia may use, including:

  • enabling use of the 3492.5–3510 MHz band by advanced amateur licensees and overseas equivalents in regional areas in regional areas
  • prohibiting use by advanced amateur licensees and overseas equivalents of the following frequencies and areas:
    • the 3400–3425 MHz frequency range in specified metropolitan areas, regional areas and major regional centres
    • the 3425–3442.5 MHz frequency range in specified regional areas
    • the 3492.5–3510 MHz frequency range in specified metropolitan areas
    • the 3510–3542.5 MHz frequency range in specified areas

Full details for submissions and details about the proposed changes to amateur access in the 3400–3575 MHz band can be found on the ACMA website.

3400–3575 MHz band optimisation

Interest in deploying wireless broadband services in the 3400–3575 MHz band has increased since the 3300–3800 MHz band was identified globally for wireless broadband use (including 5G). In the lead-up to the 3.6 GHz auction in 2018, stakeholders identified optimising spectrum and apparatus licence arrangements in the 3400–3575 MHz band as an activity that should be prioritised in the ACMA’s work program.

The 3400–3575 MHz band, which forms part of the 3300–3800 MHz band, is currently subject to a mix of licensing arrangements that authorise a variety of services including wide-area and localised wireless broadband, fixed satellite, radiolocation and amateur services, as well ultra-wideband (UWB) and building material analysis devices authorised for operation under the Radiocommunications (Low Potential Interference Devices) Class Licence 2015.

Over time, the existing wireless broadband arrangements in the band have become fragmented and are not optimally configured for contemporary technologies such as 5G. Defragmentation is expected to result in more efficient use of spectrum and a reduction in network deployment costs.

Current arrangements in the 3400–3575 MHz band

AM = amateur, FSS = fixed satellite service, PMP = point-to-multipoint, PTS = public telecommunication service, SL = spectrum licence

Current arrangements in the 3400–3575 MHz band

Current arrangements in the 3400–3575 MHz band

Final planning arrangements for the 3400–3575 MHz band

Figure 2: Final planning arrangements for the 3400–3575 MHz band

Figure 2: Final planning arrangements for the 3400–3575 MHz bandThe proposed changes in this paper are consistent with the ACMA’s Principles for Spectrum Management, as they maximise the overall public benefit derived from the use of the 3400–3575 MHz band by making more of the band available for both wide-area wireless broadband (such as mobile network operators) and localised wireless broadband services.

A key benefit of these arrangements is that they minimise the impact on incumbent services. Existing spectrum and most class-licensed arrangements are not affected.

Amateur licensing arrangements

As the spectrum regulator, ACMA must ensure that the operation of amateur radio stations is appropriately authorised, including that amateur radio operators are appropriately qualified before issuing a licence.

ACMA issues apparatus licences to applicants in accordance with the level of qualification achieved. Flexibility in the use of the station, the power level and available frequency bands that may be used by the station vary according to the qualification achieved by the operator.

Apparatus licences for amateur radio operators with Advanced, Standard and Foundation qualifications are issued on a ‘non-assigned’ basis. This means that rather than being assigned a particular frequency for use, they may operate on a shared set of permitted frequencies, as set out in the Amateur LCD. The ACMA issues Beacon and Repeater licences on an assigned basis.

Licensees are subject to a range of licence conditions that are set out in the Act, the Amateur LCD and in individual licences. The Overseas Amateur Class Licence sets out the conditions for operating an amateur station by overseas amateurs visiting Australia for short periods of time.

The Amateur LCD and Overseas Class Licence permit advanced licensees (and overseas equivalents) to operate in parts of the 3400–3575 MHz band, subject to geographic limitations specified in both instruments.

The proposed changes are preliminary steps to facilitate the ACMA’s preferred planning option for the 3400–3575 MHz band.

The proposed changes include:

  • enabling use of the 3492.5–3510 MHz band by advanced amateur licensees and overseas equivalents in regional areas.
  • prohibiting use by advanced amateur licensees and overseas equivalents of the following frequencies and areas:
  • the 3400–3425 MHz frequency range in specified metropolitan areas, regional areas and major regional centres
  • the 3425–3442.5 MHz frequency range in specified regional areas
  • the 3492.5–3510 MHz frequency range in specified metropolitan areas
  • the 3510–3542.5 MHz frequency range in specified areas.

The proposed updates will, if made, ensure that advanced licensees may continue to use parts of the 3400–3575 MHz band outside areas under consideration for spectrum licensing, as well as other bands allocated for amateur use, such as 3300–3400 MHz.

If the relevant spectrum is ultimately not designated for spectrum licensing under section 36 of the Act, the ACMA will consider further amendments to the Amateur LCD to return the relevant spectrum to amateur licensees.

If you’re interested in getting on the 3.4GHz have a look at the SG Lab 3400 transverter.