Feeds

Carriers vs cops: Australia's spectrum conundrum

New services or emergency services?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.