A new report released by the Australian Radio Communications Industry Association (ARCIA) reveals that the spectrum used for land mobile radio (LMR) services generates economic benefits of between $1.99 billion and $3.72 billion every year. These benefits far outweigh the economic cost of providing LMR services, indicating that LMR is the best possible use of those spectrum resources.
The report, entitled Valuing Mission Critical Radio Services: A study of the economic value of land mobile radio spectrum in Australia, prepared by Windsor Place Consulting, is based on extensive economic modelling and consultation with industry. The report shows that, even using the most conservative estimates, utilising the spectrum for LMR provides the highest possible value for the Australian economy and community.
The key points of the report are:
- The economic benefits of LMR spectrum use is between $1.99 billion and $3.71 billion per annum.
- This is compared to an annual opportunity cost of only $39.7 million, indicating the benefits of LMR are at least 10 times greater than the next best alternative.
- The report raises serious questions about the substitutability of alternatives to radio, which need to be carefully considered by ACMA and the Australian Government.
- Organisations that use LMR, particularly emergency and first responder services, are highly dependent on mission-critical radio to provide essential public services.
- Users are highly committed to LMR technologies that provide important advantages, including ‘one-to-many’ communication, immediate and continual voice connectivity, and the ability to operate effectively without mobile cellular infrastructure.
Spectrum allocated to LMR services, primarily in the 400 MHz and 500 MHz range, is a key input for a wide array of public and private sector organisations. In the private sector LMR is used, for example, by mining companies, taxi services, and transport and utilities companies. Radio services play a vital role in a range of services provided by the public sector including police, ambulance, fire fighting and other emergency and first-responder services.