Within the Outer Zone (70 – 150km radius) the goal of the governments is for both radio astronomy and other activities to be successfully undertaken to maximise opportunities to the region. While still providing protection for radio astronomy, the governments will work with industry and the scientific community to facilitate the continued development and viability of other economic activities in the region through encouraging negotiation of mutually agreeable strategies to control radio frequency interference.
The process to achieve the goal is a consultative approach whereby:
the proponent consults with the MRO Entity with a goal of developing and implementing technical solutions that ensure the radio-frequency impact of their operation on radio astronomy falls within acceptable limits; and
the MRO Entity facilitates practical solutions that maximise opportunities for shared use of spectrum within acceptable limits. This might include engaging in collaborative technical work with the proponent to develop mutually acceptable solutions.
A diagram summarising the three main steps when applying to the ACMA for an apparatus licence in the
Outer Zone and Coordination Zones. A similar process applies when submitting an exploration or mining
proposal relating to the Radio Telescope Mineral
Resource Management Area to the Department
of Mines and Petroleum.
Click on the image to enlarge
What if thresholds are exceeded?
If the proposed activities in the Outer Zone or Coordination Zones are likely to cause interference above thresholds defined in the
RALI MS32, the proponent and MRO Entity are encouraged to work together to develop and agree on a mutually acceptable technical solution. The solution should minimise the impact on radio astronomy while maximising the opportunity for shared use of radio spectrum within acceptable limits.
What can the technical solution involve?
Technical solutions that would mitigate interference may include, for example, power reduction, site relocation, directional antennas, alternative frequencies, optical fibre or operating devices only at certain times.
Who makes the decision?
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) makes the final decision as to whether a radiocommunications licence will be granted. Proponents and the MRO Entity can each advise the ACMA, but the ACMA is not bound by their advice, nor that of any other stakeholder.
Is an agreed technical solution always possible?
It may not always be possible for the MRO Entity and a proponent to agree on a technical solution due to the impact of proposed activities on radio astronomy or the impact of proposed interference mitigation measures on the proponent.
According to ACMA regulation, in cases where agreement cannot be reached the proponent can still apply for a licence to the ACMA and the ACMA will decide whether to issue a licence, having regard to all matters it considers relevant and taking into account the requirements of all stakeholders. If a mutually satisfactory technical agreement has been reached with the MRO entity, this will be a relevant factor for the ACMA in its decision making.
Will licences be renewed?
Under the terms of RALI MS32, licences granted under a licence agreement between the MRO and a third party will be considered for renewal consistent with the obligations under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 and the ACMA’s apparatus licence renewal policy. Any agreements reached will not be required to be renegotiated at the time of licence renewal, unless stated in the agreement or if the licence agreement has a limited time period.
Further information regarding licence renewals can be found in section 4.7 of RALI MS32.