ACMA to upgrade spectrum monitor system

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ACMA to upgrade spectrum monitor system

Crackdown on illegal repeaters and jammers.

Australia's communications regulator is pushing ahead with a major overhaul of the infrastructure it uses to keep tabs on spectrum usage and to identify sources of interference.

Tender documents released yesterday sought technology to significantly overhaul infrastructure used by the Australian Communications and Media Authority's Interference Management and Monitoring Section (IMMS) at fixed and roving locations.

IMMS first outlined its future state vision in November 2011, which it said required the "creation of an integrated and automated remotely controlled cutting-edge spectrum monitoring system." (pdf)

Some "tier one" sites where the ACMA has fixed wideband receivers that are over a decade old are to be refitted with a newer receiver that is capable of monitoring chunks of radio frequency spectrum "in real time".

The upgraded fixed receiver model, which has been trialled over the past year, is also capable of "simultaneously monitor[ing] multiple frequencies, which eliminates the need to use multiple receivers" at a fixed location."

The ACMA noted it would buy another five of these wideband receivers over the coming five years, in addition to the unit it had under trial.

In addition, the regulator is augmenting the fixed monitoring system with transportable monitoring equipment that can be shifted easily between sites.

The transportable system was first trialled at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth in October 2011. (pdf)

Another five such transportable sets have been approved for purchase over the next five years.

"The functionality of the existing monitoring system can be significantly enhanced by the use of transportable monitoring equipment at mobile and temporary monitoring sites," the ACMA noted.

"This setup enables the equipment to be networked into our existing monitoring system in both temporary and mobile monitoring environments for the collection of spectrum data, spectrum analysis or investigating interference issues."

Radiofrequency interference caused by illegal mobile repeaters and jammers is a specific target of the ACMA in the nine months through to September this year.

The crackdown was sparked in part by increased reports from mobile telcos of repeaters that interfered with their network operations.

The nature of the repeater problem required the ACMA to send workers into the field to try to pinpoint the source of interference, a process that can take days.

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