ACMA reverses decision to remove 40 channel UHF CBs from CBRS class licence.

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) reverses its decision to remove 40 channel UHF CBs from CBRS class licence.

In a surprise decision, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has reversed its decision to make 40 channel UHF CB radio devices illegal under its review of the CB Radio Service (CBRS) class licence.

Proposed changes to the class licence would have disallowed existing CB radios from transmitting on the UHF CB frequency bands after July 2017. Upgrading the many tens of thousands of radios in cars, 4WDs, caravans, trucks and base stations would have cost users millions of dollars should the determination have passed.

ACMA spectrum licencing co-ordinator Dominic Byrne acknowledged that the existing 40 channel devices were co-existing with new 80 channel devices successfully, eliminating the need to enact the previously proposed determination.

“These changes were introduced to manage congestion and interference in the CB radio channels,” he said.

“Based on both some dialogue we’ve had with CB users and some monitoring of the CB channels we’ve been doing … we don’t think that there’s any harm from the continued operation of the 40 channel units.”

Dominic Byrne – ACMA Spectrum Licencing Co-Ordinator

Users of the CB radio service had criticized the ACMA’s communication in the matter, stating that the department had failed to notify users of the proposed changes in time, leaving them with little time to form a proper response to the proposed changes.

Rod Hannify from Dubbo (NSW) expressed his concerns about the proposed changes. “There is one in the house, one in the farm shed, there’s one on each tractor so they can talk to those people. There’s one in each of the utes that operate on the property, there is one in each of the trucks,” Mr Hannifey said. He claimed that both truckies and farmers, who are both prolific users of the CBRS, were not made aware of the proposed changes.

Tony Hopkins, president of the National Road Freighters Association, is responsible for managing a fleet of approximately 50 trucks in Queensland. He stated that he had only become aware of the proposed changes a few weeks ago and had advised his members immediately.

“We got a response from a lot of the [trucking] community,” Mr Hopkins opined. “They were outraged and couldn’t believe something like this was happening.”. Mr Hopkins claimed that the changes were proposed without input from the trucking industry, a claim refused by Mr Byrne from ACMA.

“This is the product of a review we conducted some years ago and there was an extensive consultation process leading up to these changes in 2011,” Mr Byrne responded. “We’ve also made a statement on our website.”

Mr Hopkins stated that replacing all 40 channel UHF radios with new 80 channel units would cost his company $40,000, a cost which was unjustifiable. “The bottom 40 of an 80 channel radio is exactly the same,” he said.

Mr Hopkins noted that, whilst the freight association was not pleased with the consultation process, it was relieved that 40 channel UHF radios would continue to be permitted as part of the new CBRS determination.

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