In April 2008 the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) issued an initial Discussion Paper on changes to the UHF band. The paper, titled “Spectrum Options: 403-520 MHz. Initial consultation on future arrangement for the 400 MHz band” touched on possible changes to the UHF band, including the UHF CB band.
The paper proposed a change from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz spacing, making the UHF CB band 80 channels rather than 40. Of concern to ACREM was the fact that this would change the allocation of the emergency channels, which could cause confusion and potentially cost lives as users fumbled to remember what channel was allocated for emergency use. Download this paper: 400_mhz_discussion_paper-final (12 downloads)
ACREM responded to this paper outlining our strongest objections to any change in the emergency channel numbering. Then, in March 2009 the ACMA released the paper “Spectrum Proposals: 403 – 520 MHz. Proposals for future arrangements in the 400 MHz band.”. This paper discussed proposed changes to the UHF band, including the UHF CB band. Download this paper: ifc08-2009_spectrum_proposals_403-520_mhz (12 downloads)
The Discussion Paper proposed several changes to the UHF CB band, with these being:
- Change of simplex voice channels from 25kHz to 12.5kHz spacing;
- Extension of the band by 6.25kHz above the current upper frequency, to make space for the extra simplex channels;
- Existing simplex channels would be renumbered as “x A” (e.g. 10A, 11A, 12A, etc), with the new interleaved frequencies being numbered as “x B” (e.g. 10B, 11B, 12B, etc);
- No changes to the repeater channels (1 – 8 and 31 – 38), including the two emergency channels, and no changes to the two data channels.
The primary issue of concern to ACREM was:
- Changes to the channel allocation of the emergency channels;
- Potential interference to the emergency channels during the phase-in period.
However, as ACMA had indicated in the paper that there would be no changes to the repeater channels, both in channel numbering and spacing, ACREM saw no immediate concerns with regards to emergency channel operations. You can read our response to this paper here: ifc08-2009_response_ACREM (11 downloads)
Then in April 2010 the ACMA released its final decision in the paper “The Way Ahead – Decisions and Implementation Options for the 400MHz Band”. This paper proposed changes to the UHF CB band:
- Changing simplex voice channels from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz spacing (and adding 6.25kHz to the top end of the band to accomodate);
- Changing repeater channels from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz spacing;
- Existing repeater and simplex channels renumbered to “x A” (e.g. 1A, 2A.. 5A, 6A.. 11A, 12A, etc);
- New interleaved frequencies to be numbered “x B” (e.g. 1B, 2B.. 5B, 6B.. 11B, 12B, etc);
- Retaining the 25 kHz spacing and channel numbers for the two data channels.
These proposals caused ACREM a great deal of concern as they not only change the existing emergency channel numbers from 5/35 to 5A/35A, but add two new general use repeater channels at 5B/35B. While over 30 years of publicity advertised that channels 5 and 35 were designated emergency channels, we would now have to re-educate users that channels 5A and 35A were emergency use whilst channels 5B and 35B were not.
Apart from the obvious concerns over emergency channel changes, the proposed new channel numbering scheme would make it difficult for any current equipment utilising standard 2 segment LED displays to be modified for the new channels, even if the transceiver design would make modification to 12.5 kHz spacing possible. This would mean that every user would need to purchase new equipment rather than simply updating, and manufacturers would need to redesign existing models to accommodate the new alpha-numeric channel numbers, rather than simply modifying the existing design.
ACMA Proposed Channels
The new channel plan proposed by the ACMA was:
|Existing Chnl||New Chnl||Freq||Use||Existing Chnl||New Chnl||Freq||Use|
|5||5A||476.5250||Repeater output EMERGENCY|
|35||35A||477.2750||Repeater input EMERGENCY|
In May ACREM lodged its first response to the final decision – see ifc11_2010_Response_ACREM (8 downloads) . ACREM also continued to work with other groups and individuals with the aim of submitting a second joint response before the deadline.
On 3rd June ACREM submitted a further response to the ACMA and also to the Honourable the Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. See acrem_reply2_ifc11-2010 (9 downloads) .
Response from other Groups
In support of the ACREM response the South East Queensland UHF Emergency Service Team (SEQUEST) and the Howqua Hills Progress Association both lodged their own objections to the ACMA.
- SEQUEST Letter: sequest_reply_ifc11-2010 (9 downloads)
- Howqua Hills Letter: howqua_hills_ifc11-2010 (8 downloads)
GME Electrophone Response
ACREM was also contacted by GME Electrophone with regards to the ACMA decision. GME indicated that they did not agree with the ACMA final decision and they would be lodging their own response discouraging the change to A and B channels. They also indicated that our concerns regarding the emergency channels were valid and that having channels 5A and 5B could indeed cause confusion during an emergency.
Alternate Channel Plan
GME Electrophone proposed an alternate channel plan in their last submission. ACREM supported this plan and advised the ACMA that we felt this alternate channel plan was far better than that proposed by ACMA The new plan was suggested to be a 2 stage introduction:
|Phase 1 channels|
|Phase 2 channels|
|5||476.5250||Repeater output EMERGENCY|
|35||477.2750||Repeater input EMERGENCY|
ACMA Change the Decision
In a letter dated 28 June 2010 from Mr Don Williams, A/g Assistant Secretary, Spectrum and Wireless Services, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, responding to our correspondence to the Minister, advised:
The ACMA has noted responses to its discussion papers highlighted potential interference issues to the emergency channels which it has addressed. According to the ACMA, throughout its consultations, discussion of the naming conventions for channels was minimal, although ACREM supported the existing channel numbering arrangements being maintained.
The ACMA has advised that following the publication of its April 2010 discussion paper The way ahead – Decisions and implementation options for the 400MHz band, it has received comments from industry and equipment manufacturers that the proposed channel numbering scheme would cause them some technical difficulties. In considering this feedback and the concerns of ACREM, the ACMA has advised that it has decided to pursue a channel numbering scheme that addresses these difficulties.
This decision by ACMA was achieved through the cooperation and support of several organisations. In particular ACREM would like to thank the following for their valued support on this matter:
- ACBRO Inc.
- Howqua Hills Progress Association
- GME Electrophone
ACMA Advise No Change!
In a letter to the Howqua Hills Progress Association, ACMA advised that there will be no changes to the emergency channels 5 and 35, and that all new channels will be numbered from 41 to 80.
Draft Class Licence Released
On 28 January 2011 the ACMA released its draft Class Licence that incorporates the changes from the previous discussion papers.
In summary, it was good to see that the ACMA listened to the band users and made changes suggested by both ACREM and GME Electrophone. The main changes were:
- Existing 40 channel allocations will remain as is. This means the emergency channels 5 & 35, the road channel 40, call channel 11, and repeater channels 1 to 8 and 41 to 48 will all remain UNCHANGED!
- New channels will start at channel 41 to channel 80 (channels 61, 62 and 63 reserved for future allocation), with the second repeater band being on channels 41 to 48 and 71 to 78.
- A notation that CTCSS and SELCALL is NOT permitted on channels 5 & 35. This was a recommendation from the previous submission by ACREM and other groups to Standards Australia. See Submission on changes to CBRS Standard
- Provision for the connection of CB equipment to the telecommunications network (telephone network).
ACREM would like to thank ACBRO and GME Electrophone for their support in this matter. It proves that when we all pull together CB groups can exercise great influence over the legislation governing the bands.
For those interested, the final outcome of these changes can be found in the UHF Channel list shown on our CB Channels page.