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Parliament mulls fate of unsold Digital Dividend spectrum

Adam Bender | June 24, 2013
Police Federation lobbying Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard for 700MHz spectrum.

In a written submission, the Police Federation said its members need the spectrum to do their jobs. "Law enforcement, and the other first responders, unquestionably need 21st Century communications tools to do their challenging work, protecting life and ensuring public order in critical situations, safely and effectively," the Police Federation wrote. "This means they need adequate, dedicated mobile broadband spectrum."

"Nobody is suggesting and no one has ever suggested that the public safety agencies shouldn't have access and be using the latest generation mobile data applications and services," Althaus said. "But as a nation we need to do these things efficiently and effectively."

Rush before election
The Police Federation believes that upcoming election in September "provide an opportunity but it could complicate it with so many other issues around", Burgess said.

"We'll be using every opportunity between now and the 14th of September to prosecute our case and hopefully get a commitment out of both sides, so whoever wins at the end of the day has a public policy position that would allocate 20MHz of spectrum to public safety."

In the hearing on Monday, the Police Federation, Australian Federal Police and New South Wales Police all urged Parliament to give 20MHz of the unsold 700MHz spectrum to public safety agencies, said Burgess.

On Wednesday morning, the Police Federation presented its case to Opposition leader Tony Abbott, and in the afternoon the group lobbied the Greens, Burgess said. The Police Federation's next plans to meet with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, either at the end of this week or early next, he said.

AMTA also continues to have discussions with the various parties, said Althaus.

Officials expected to speak at the 24 June hearing are from the ACMA, AMTA, Motorola, Attorney Generals and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE).

In a statement, a Conroy spokesman said the ACMA is responsible for management of spectrum. "Based on information provided by public safety agencies themselves, in October 2012 the ACMA determined that 10 megahertz -- that is, 2 x 5 megahertz -- is the quantum of 800 MHz spectrum it will reserve for allocation to public safety agencies.

"However, at the request of the [Council of Australian Governments (COAG)] Standing Council on Policy and Emergency Management, it was agreed to allow States and Territories to make further submissions on the allocation of spectrum required," said the spokesman. "The ACMA is currently considering this information and will report in due course."


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