Radio spectrum shift to biz cuts DoD wavelength

Australia's defence capabilities are "at risk" due to a lack of radio frequency spectrum which could also have a "major impact" on national interests especially in the current climate of terrorism.

According to Department of Defence CIO, Patrick Hannan, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) continues to surrender Radio Frequency (RF) spectrum to commercial use, which is "diminishing defence capability".

In a letter to the Broadband Advisory Group (BAG), which provides high-level advice to IT Minister Senator Richard Alston, Hannan warns that further loss of spectrum could degrade ADF capacity to train, prepare and conduct RF-dependent military operations with allies.

"Implementation of widespread broadband services using radio technology will place great pressure on the capacity of RF spectrum; this could put at risk many defence RF-reliant capabilities," the letter said.

"In promoting broadband services in Australia, serious consideration should be given to the potential adverse impacts on spectrum availability, and likely future requirements for the ADF and other non-commercial RF spectrum users."

Hannan said the expansion in Australia of broadband services to remote communities requires a "comprehensive upgrade of existing cable delivery systems or the installation of radio, satellite or line-of-sight delivery mechanisms."

The letter states: "Implementation of widespread broadband services using radio technology will place great pressure on the capacity of radio frequency spectrum, thereby intensifying demands to reassign spectrum from existing priority users to support new broadband services."

BAG projects manager at the National Office for the Information Economy (NOIE), Garry Compton, said all submissions will form part of a report to go to Senator Alston at the end of this month.

He said the submissions will be considered by the Government and BAG is unwilling to comment on any likely outcomes.

A spokesman for Senator Alston said the defence submission will certainly be taken into consideration and the minister is expected to respond to BAG report early in the New Year.

"The Government wouldn't do anything to compromise national security at this sensitive time; so the defence letter will certainly be taken into consideration," the spokesman said.

Established in March 2002, BAG is a vehicle to address supply and demand issues surrounding broadband.

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Sandra Rossi

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