Wireless ban’s mega hurts

A LOOMING Australia-wide ban soon to be introduced on wireless microphones could ruin small businesses and non-profit clubs and cost the WA education department millions.

The owner of a Hamilton Hill PA hire company says the ban will cost his firm $40,000 to replace or retune just 30 items of equipment.

The powerful Australian Communications and Media Authority has decreed that anyone using a wireless microphone in the 694–820 megahertz range must switch it off by January 2015 or face steep fines or gaol time.

The change is happening because the former Labor government sold the frequencies’ licences to Telstra and Optus for fat fees, or what have been dubbed a “digital dividend”.

“This law is useless and a big inconvenience to a lot of people,” says Simon Tarrant from Freo PA Hire. “This law could ruin businesses—and especially not-for-profit organisations: The cost of having to buy a new system would be too great for many of them and would have serious effects. If we arrange a sale or long-term hire of a product which turns out to be ineffective after only a few months, the customer base is going to hold bad opinions and regard us poorly for selling them this product—when the reality is that the government changed the laws on us.”

He has joined a campaign calling on the Abbott government to compensate anyone affected by the decision.

The Australian Wireless Audio Group estimates 80 per cent of wireless devices in Australia—150,000 individual pieces of equipment—may end up on the scrapheap.

“This is a public policy disaster in-waiting,” AWAG head Ian Harvey says.

He says new communications minister Malcolm Turnbull must sort out a transition plan, as small users such as churches, musicians and fitness instructors wouldn’t have a clue they would soon be breaking the law.

He says wireless audio devices help generate $34 billion in economic activity every year.

The WA education department says it’s only just found out about the ban and is pondering what to do about it.

 

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