In response to some people asking questions about wireless here in Australia, I'm writing this. I'd love to see it expanded to cover other countries. (I'm wary of making it a collaborative article, I think it's more useful here...)
We're running 4 or 5 years behind the US in our digital TV transition. Analog is scheduled to be decommissioned progressively from next year but the capitals aren't due to switch off until some time in 2013.
The indications are that following that switchover we will end up with a digital dividend, most of us expect it will be at the 800s end of the spectrum. Our UHF band currently goes up to 820 MHz and a very early indication is that 18 channels might be lost so 18ch @ 7 MHz each gives 124 MHz cut off, meaning we stop at about 696 MHz. That is all subject to govt planning, we are expecting a green paper any time now.
We have the advantage of learning from the experiences in the US and UK and so that is likely to shape the way it all happens.
The ACMA - Australian Communications and Media Authority, part of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) performs the regulatory functions of your FCC with regard to spectrum etc.
What we do have here that the FCC don't seem to use is a thing called class licences. These authorise the use by anyone of transmitters within certain conditions. They exist for CB radio, cordless phones, etc. The one of significance is the Low Interference Potential Devices Class Licence 2000. Under items 22 and 22A of Schedule 1 of that licence, operation of wireless audio transmitters is permitted between 174 & 230 MHz (VHF Band III) to a maximum EIRP of 3mW and between 520 & 820 MHz (UHF Bands IV & V) to a maximum of 100mW EIRP. Both on condition that you don't operate within an active TV channel. This means we are legally licenced users of spectrum.
So given we are licenced users, we ought to be afforded a say in the process. The Australian Wireless Audio Group, operating under the auspices of the Australian Music Association, is a group representing and funded by most of the major importers of RF into Aus. It is actively monitoring the situation and has had meetings with Minister Conroy. They are awaiting the Green Paper before much more can be done.
Whilst it is legal to operate in VHF Band III, basically you've got Buckley's chance in the capital cities. I'll use Sydney as an example; 174 - 230 MHz consists of channels 6-12:
6- 174-181 ATN (Seven) digital
7- 181-188 ATN (Seven) analog
8- 188-195 TCN (Nine) digital
9- 195-202 TCN (Nine) analog
9A- 202-209 DAB+ Digital Radio (in 3 channels)
10- 209-216 TEN (Ten) analog - was 208-215, existing licences stay on that, but new ones are on the new channel
11- 216-223 TEN (Ten) digital
12- 223-230 ABC (ABC) digital - analog is on ch2, 63-70 MHz
UHF spectrum access is better, high power analog on chs 28 & 31 and a high power digital station on 34. The rest of the band is used for infill / repeaters as well as the main transmitters for the Illawarra region (~1 hr south of Syd), which ironically are more powerful than the Sydney transmitters.
Sadly, most of the RF sold in the last few years (80 or 90 %) has been up around the 800MHz mark and so I would consider it endangered come early next decade... Similar effects to your spectrum losses would be anticipated with schools, community groups etc, but an argument will be made by AWAG that as licenced users, some compensation is merited.
Let me know what details people would like to know that I've forgotten or other questions...