Feeds

Carriers vs cops: Australia's spectrum conundrum

New services or emergency services?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Network requirements

Finally, there’s a much simpler question of the infrastructure itself.

The media was astonished at how well mobile infrastructure can survive some kinds of emergencies – the recent Brisbane floods and North Queensland cyclone, for example – but resilience is relative.

From an emergency services point of view, a mobile base station looks very interdependent and fragile: it can't survive long without mains power, and it can't communicate at all without backhaul.

If a disaster knocks out some base stations, others nearby can take up the load – but at the cost of bandwidth (since speed falls with increasing distance) and congestion (since more users are crowded onto the same tower).

The emergency services' preference for managing their own networks is both prudent and comprehensible. Their need would likely be for fewer base stations than a mobile network, each covering a greater area. Even sub-megabit network speeds would look lavish by comparison to today's voice-only networks, and they know how many personnel any given base station needs to support.

So if I ignore what looks, from my vantage point, to be media barracking for the telecoms industry because that's the point of view we most readily recognise, the debate appears almost irreconcilable. Emergency services can't compete with telcos in an open auction, and even if those carrier networks could serve all their purposes, citizens would probably object to emergency services' requirements, even if carriers didn't.

If it weren't for the fact that I don't know enough about the constraints of spectrum allocation, I would argue that the problem is administrative. Why was Australia's TV spectrum redrawn so that the digital dividend has an odd-man-out at the tail of the spectrum?

This, however, ignores the complexities of spectrum policy. The ACMA has to reconcile engineering, budget and political demands of various powerful lobbies (broadcasters as well as carriers).

Which leads to a question: did the government make too many concessions to TV broadcasters in the digital TV changeover? In the era of "new media", people are watching less TV than they did formerly, yet part of the digital TV tradeoff has been to give the broadcasters extra channels.

Those extra channels increasingly seem like dead ducks. Instead of exciting new content, they seem to be turning into rerun channels or the home of programmes that don't suit the "flagship" channels.

Perhaps the emergency services' needs would be better served by a rethink of the needs of broadcasters rather than a stoush with carriers. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T dangles gigabit broadband plans over 100 US cities
So soon after a mulled Google Fiber expansion, fancy that
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE & Vodafone will let you BONK on the TUBE – with Boris' blessing
Transport for London: You can pay, but don't touch
Turnbull gave NBN Co NO RULES to plan blackspot upgrades
NBN Co faces huge future Telstra bills and reduces fibre footprint
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.