Digital a once in a generation opportunity: Stephen Conroy

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy foreshadowed some tricky issues coming up for the regulator in the next few years, including planning for digital tv switch-off, possibly moving tv electronic news gathering link frequencies off the 400 GHz band, planning for digital radio and the roll out of the national broadband network.

“Taking action today will deliver better outcomes for consumers and business in the years to come,” Conroy told the RadComms09 Conference today.

He says spectrum demand is increasing for mobile and wireless broadband uses, and that the roll out of the National Broadband Network will also put demands on wireless spectrum. So the Minister opened discussions on how to best sell spectrum and how to manage switch-off and reuse frequencies in his speech, topics which were continued in more detail during other sessions.

Like previous Communications Ministers, Conroy is hoping to get big public policy benefits from the move to digital, but conceded that Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner is also pressuring for real dollars ($10 million over ten years) to be returned to the budget from the digital dividend.

“We want to maximise the dividend to broadcasters, consumers and other spectrum users… we have a once in a generation opportunity,” Conroy told the conference, but stressed that there are complex issues to be sorted out to get the best results.

The main business of the conference is to generate discussion between industry and government on how to best move forward on those issues.

Below: RadComms09 Conference delegates at lunch at the National Maritime Museum.