Malta has the “strong potential” to offer a testing environment on a national but small scale in the use of wireless communication frequencies, according to the Malta Communications Authority.
In fact a few weeks ago the MCA granted a licence to Aeromobile AS of Norway to use radio frequency spectrum and related radio communications apparatus to carry out tests on innovative electronic communications products in Malta.
These radio frequencies will be used to conduct land-based installation and certification testing on board aircraft that are being equipped with wireless systems used to provide in-flight mobile communications services.
“Malta has a strong potential to act as a test-bed for new services or technologies, given its size, geographic location and population density,” an MCA spokesman told i-Tech.
“It is a microcosm that offers the potential for testing applications on a nationwide basis with limited investment. In order to capitalise on this potential the MCA in May 2010 established a test and trial licensing scheme in support of innovative spectrum uses. There are two types of licences available, one that covers technology tests and the other covering service trials involving third parties or the public. Both licensing regimes apply only nominal fees.”
In the case of Aeromobile AS, this testing is done in the light of the fact that mobile communication on board aircraft is now an established service and is offered by numerous airlines including Emirates (which operates to Malta) and Singapore Airlines. Such a service is regulated by the European Union which among other things, establishes equipment specifications such as power limits and operational requirements such as the altitudes at which the service can be operated in order to ensure maximum safety.
This test licence is the first licence of this kind issued by the authority. The licensing regime facilitates access to spectrum for technologies and services that are still at the developmental stage by introducing an accelerated licensing procedure and attractive licence conditions and fees for test and trial spectrum.
However these trials will in no way affect the use of wireless frequencies by services in Malta, including the rationalisation process which saw the digital switchover in television a few months ago.
“Each application for a test or trial licence is assessed on its own merits and any part of the radio spectrum may be considered subject to the availability of spectrum and the test and/or trial technical requirements. Test and trial licences will not convey any exclusive rights to the use of the spectrum which is authorised under that licence and licence holders will not be given any preference should the specific frequency band used by them be issued for public assignment,” the MCA spokesman added.
Guidelines providing further information to parties interested in applying for test and /or trial licences are available from www.mca.org.mt