420-430 MHz in Australia

WIA President Michael Owen VK3Ki has released an update on the 70cm amateur radio band.

Internationally, the 420 - 430 MHz part of the 70 cm band exists by a footnote allocating the band on a secondary basis to amateur only in the USA, Jamaica, the Philippines and Australia.

In fact, use of the part of the 70 cm band 420 to 430 MHz in Australia has been restricted to Advanced licensees and further restricted by various exclusion zones in NSW, the ACT, and the Jervis Bay area, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

In April 2008 the WIA reported on the public consultation by the ACMA in respect of its review of the band 403 – 520 MHz.  

From the outset it was obvious that the amateur band 420 – 450 MHz would be affected.  Fairly early on, the bands 430 – 450 MHz was announced to be “out of scope” for the review.  However, the ACMA has indicated that segment from 440-450 MHz may be used on a temporary basis by displaced land mobile services until they are relocated during the transition phase.

In September 2008 the WIA reported on the release of the submissions received by the ACMA, and in June 2010 the WIA further reported on the ACMA’s announcements.

An examination of the WIA 70 Cm Band Plan shows that the band 420 – 430 MHz is largely “Restricted”.

The band is allocated in Australia to radiolocation and mobile as primary, and that primary mobile use is by government networks supporting essential and emergency networks supporting police, fire and ambulance.  That use commenced in 1999, and since 2009 the Council of Australian Governments has supported interoperability and harmonisation of those services.

The only real problem that the withdrawal of this segment creates is that there are a number of repeater link assignments that will need to be moved by 1st January 2013. There are some 34 licensees affected, mainly clubs.

In addition, there are other amateur repeater links that may be able to operate beyond that date, and the WIA is currently negotiating with the appropriate parties.  When the matter is clarified, the WIA will also be in contact with the relevant licensees.

While the ACMA will be formally writing to the affected licensees, the WIA has undertaken to contact each licensee as soon as it is able to do so, to ascertain whether there are any special difficulties in moving and to ensure that the WIA repeater frequency coordination is available to assist as required.

Despite the issues yet to be resolved, the ACMA has advised the WIA that the band 420 to 430 MHz will be withdrawn as a secondary allocation at least for general amateur use from 1st January 2013.