Identifying requirements for a spectrum management system


Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)


User Research



A critical part of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) role is managing the use of radio spectrum. This is done through the ACMA’s spectrum management system, which manages applications and technical assessments to provide radiocommunications licences.

As part of a $7.2 million announcement in the 2020-21 Federal Budget, the ACMA were looking to invest in ‘systems that allow more efficient spectrum allocation and simplify the digital licence system’.

As a first step the ACMA, acknowledging that the current system was based on the needs of internal staff, made it a priority to understand their external users in design of a new system. The ACMA engaged Pragma to conduct user research with external users of the spectrum management system and identify requirements for a new system based on user insights.

In the initial phase of the project, Pragma conducted a desktop review to understand existing research and insights, before conducting a vision and scoping workshop with the ACMA stakeholders to align on the research intent. These activities allowed us to build out our understanding, identify initial assumptions, draw out research questions and deliver a comprehensive research plan.

Pragma conducted a series of structured interviews with external users to deeply understand their needs, sentiments and expectations. Interviews and the following synthesis process were all conducted virtually, during lockdown, without compromising on the quality of insights.

The user research blueprint focussed on a number of broad themes that emerged for external users. These were around the value they place on responsiveness, the need for reliable data and finally the provision of more accessible services to increase compliance across all users. Personas and journey maps were used to visualise key user segments and understand pain points and opportunities. These led to a series of recommendations for the new spectrum management system as well as opportunities for quick wins in the short term.

Pragma’s user research provided the ACMA with detailed requirements for the new spectrum management system, derived from the experiences of external users. The ACMA integrated the requirements, along with the visual artefacts produced, into the approach to market for design and implementation of a new system.

This was an important step for the ACMA to inform the development of a new system that is fit for the future and based on user needs and to ensure they aligned with the DTA’s Digital Service Standard.

Pragma’s research was a critical input to design requirements for the new spectrum management system. It highlighted the important role played by key users of the systems (Accredited Persons) and the efficiency gains that could be made by overcoming their frustrations with the current system.

The research also brought to the fore other potential users of the system like licensees and radiocommunications businesses. It showed that by bringing these users into the system, compliance rates were likely to increase with a consequent positive impact on the more efficient allocation and use of spectrum in Australia.

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