ACMA plans to kill radio transmitter labelling

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ACMA plans to kill radio transmitter labelling

Upcoming renewals could mean 103,000 devices need re-labelling.

Telcos are likely to gain a reprieve from a legal requirement that could otherwise force them to re-label every radio transmitter they operate across Australia in the next few years.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is consulting on a proposal to revoke the requirement to affix sticker labels to every transmitter that is registered to operate in set spectral bands.

The label is used to "establish ownership of a given transmitter and provides a visual indication that the transmitter is licensed and compliant with the relevant technical framework and conditions of the license," the authority said. (pdf)

It also contains information about the frequency the transmitter uses, providing ACMA inspectors with a visual aid "to determine whether that transmitter may be contributing" to an interference issue in the area.

Labelling is not a one-off: telcos must re-register transmitters and affix new labels to them every time they renew spectrum licenses.

Looming 800 MHz and 1800 MHz renewals would mean 103,000 transmitters across Australia need to be re-labelled, the ACMA said.

"Stakeholders have indicated to the ACMA that the requirement to re-label imposes a
significant impost on industry," the authority noted.

"They are concerned the requirement will create a significant regulatory burden and impose significant compliance costs for licensees.

"The ACMA considers that labelling is becoming increasingly ineffective. The majority of new equipment is located on masts and towers and the labels are often located in inaccessible areas."

The ACMA is proposing to replace the current onerous system with that used for Public Telecommunications Service (PTS) 'land stations' that operate with apparatus licenses.

Under the PTS system, licensees keep their own records "of the location, frequency and technical parameters of each 'land station' they operate" and must furnish the ACMA with those details on request.

Telcos would be responsible for initiating their own data capture programs for the transmitters they operate.

Such a system was not "unduly onerous", according to the ACMA, making it potentially useful "to extend those arrangements to spectrum licensees."

Industry submissions on the plan are being accepted until April 9.

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