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RadComms 2022 Recap — “A valuable overview of spectrum usage & future trends”

After a break of almost four years, the ACMA held their conference—RadComms—in Melbourne on November 15-16. It is hoped that it will be the first of many regular events of this type. It is a valuable overview of spectrum usage and how future trends may develop. Overall, it was a worthwhile conference and good value for all levels of interest and knowledge, with some more-technical content included.

ARCIA was well represented by Paul Davis, Noel Higgins, David Britt, Glenn Sneddon, and Ian Miller from the ARCIA Committee, as well as Peter Scarlatta, Roy Wittert and Eddie Stephanou from ARCIA’s partners, plus representatives from Radspec and Spectrum Engineering.

The RadComms conference sessions were based on these general spectrum themes –

  • New frontiers: talking about new or expanded spectrum uses, including how the advent of 6G will provide new benefits, and thoughts from Defence on future needs
  • Satellites: covering multiple formats with an outline of how Amazon plans to bring wireless broadband to ‘everyone on earth’, the Internet of Things through satellite communications like Myriota, as well as the plans for Lynk to provide mobile phone connectivity beyond the public carriers coverage footprint for existing devices
  • Licensing and allocation frontiers: including spectrum sharing with an outline on the CBRS format in America, and other sharing options around the world
  • Meeting under-served markets: mainly for remote-area broadband and how any different technologies are being trialled to bring wireless broadband to remote communities, either by community WiFi or private LTE system options
  • EME compliance: providing an overview of the testing and compliance requirements, as well as practical demonstrations of the real-time levels of EM radiation generally as well as 5G-specific testing
  • Resilience through innovation: talking about the expanding broadcast and location services—speakers outlined some of the needs for broadcast as well as the various location options being developed
  • The fourth industrial revolution:  this was an outline of development in the use of UAV’s (drones) and the spectrum involved. Presentations also outlined private LTE systems and thoughts from Nokia and Aqura Technologies, who have systems in operation around Australia, as well as a presentation from Connected Farms on the developments in broadband requirements for the agricultural sector.


RadComms should be of particular interest to our industry

There is no doubt that many in our industry might think, “Why would I go to an ACMA conference? It will all be about spectrum and not a lot of interest to me”, however, over recent years these conferences have become more about the future and spectrum usage options, rather than technical or spectrum management issues. This conference explained many different communications applications, and the presentations on Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites were of interest—these could provide an option for backhaul to remote sites as the latency is going to be well within usable limits.

The discussions on private LTE options should also be of interest to our industry. The examples quoted during presentations were mainly operating as extensions of existing public carriers networks on their spectrum. The systems ranged from effectively using a portion of an existing network as a private operation with restricted access at SIM level, or were additions specifically built to extend the carriers coverage to the area required, with the end-user having to pay for the cost either as CAPEX or OPEX, not a cheap option either way.

As an industry that has been providing private communications networks for around 70 years, we have much to offer in providing stand-alone private broadband networks to lead the way in the fourth industrial revolution.

Our industry should be showing more interest in RadComms conferences, even at around $700 to attend it would be hard not to come away with some new thoughts and ideas. It is also a great networking opportunity for access to other industry segments as well as our own, which also provides visibility of other technologies and applications that can be brought back into our own individual business operations.