Radiocommunications services in broadcasting bands | ACMA

Radiocommunications services in broadcasting bands

Introduction

This information paper provides information about licensing radiocommunications services other than broadcasting services, in the broadcasting services bands.

The broadcasting services bands

On the establishment of the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) on 5 October 1992, the then Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator the Hon Bob Collins, referred to the ABA, the following parts of the radiofrequency spectrum for planning:

AM Radio

526.5 to 1606.5 kHz (inclusive)

VHF television channel 0

45 to 52 MHz (inclusive)

VHF television channels 1 and 2

56 to 70 MHz (inclusive)

VHF television channels 3, 4 and 5 and FM radio

85 to 108 MHz (inclusive)

VHF television channel 5A

137 to 144 MHz (inclusive)

VHF television channels 6 to 12

174 to 230 MHz (inclusive)

UHF television channels 27 to 51

520 to 694 MHz (inclusive)

This designation was preserved under transitional arrangements and is still operative.

Use of the broadcasting services bands for other purposes

Before licensing radiocommunications services, other than broadcasting services, in the Broadcasting Services Bands, the spectrum to be used must be specifically made available.

There are two methods by which broadcasting services bands spectrum may be made available for radiocommunications services and narrowcasting services:

  • by a determination under section 34 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA); or
  • by a determination under section 31 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act).  Prior to the establishment of ACMA this provision was previously implemented by way of an agreement between the ABA and the ACA.

These arrangements are provided for under subsection 100(2) of the Act which states:

The ACMA must not issue an apparatus licence authorising operation of a radiocommunications transmitter within a part of the spectrum designated under subsection 31(1) unless:

  1. the issue of the licence is in accordance with a decision of the ACMA under subsection 34(1) or 34(3) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992; or
  2. the issue of the licence is in accordance with a determination under subsection 31(2) of this Act. 

Operation in the Broadcasting Service Bands may also be provided under a class licence issued under the Act. Such a provision is unaffected by the operation of subsection 34 of the BSA or subsection 31 of the Act.

Where a class licence permits operation in the broadcasting services bands (as does, for example, the Radiocommunications Class Licence (Low Interference Potential Devices) 2000 provided a person operates his or her radiocommunications equipment in accordance with the class licence, that person's operation is legal.

Section 34 decisions

The ACMA may make unused or unplanned broadcasting services bands spectrum available for other purposes, for a specified period, under section 34 of the BSA.

Broadcasting services bands spectrum may be made available, for some other specified use, only where spectrum has not been allocated to a mainstream broadcasting service. (Mainstream broadcasting services are commercial television and radio community television and radio and national television and radio.) The mechanism for making the spectrum available under section 34 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 is known, colloquially, as 'drop-through'. It has been the ACMA's practice to drop-through broadcasting services bands spectrum on a case-by-case basis.

Assignments of radiocommunications services in the broadcasting services bands must always be made on the basis that they do not compromise reception of broadcasting services.

It is generally not possible for the ACMA to drop-through spectrum for an Australia-wide service.

It is a requirement of section 35 of the BSA that, if the ACMA makes an instrument under section 34 of the BSA, the ACMA must publish in the Gazette a notice stating:

  1. that the instrument has been made; and
  2. the places where copies of the instrument can be purchased.

Specifying periods of drop-through

When making a drop-through the ACMA must specify the period for which unused spectrum may be made available. No guarantee may be made that licences for periods longer than one year will be available for the operation of services, other than mainstream broadcasting services, in the broadcasting services bands. Multiple year licensing may be available, but only for periods up to the expiry date of the drop-through./P>

Drops-through for services licensed by the ACMA

Information about existing drops-through for narrowcasting and non-broadcasting purposes, made under section 34 of the BSA, is provided in Table 1 of the appendix. Table 1 lists drops-through for periods of six months or longer. Request information about drops-through.

Section 31 arrangements

Under subsection 31 of the Act, the ACMA may make a Determination allowing radiocommunications services to operate in the broadcasting services bands. A subsection 31(2) Determinations must not be inconsistent with the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan and must promote the objectives of the BSA. A subsection 31(2) Determinations may be varied or revoked by the ACMA.

Prior to the merger of the ABA and ACA, the ABA and the ACA could make a written agreement allowing radiocommunications services to operate in the broadcasting services bands under section 31 of the Act.

Details of agreements and determinations made under subsection 31(2) of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 are provided in Table 2.

Further Information

If you have any additional queries relating to this document, please contact the National Licensing and Allocations Branch.

Appendix

Table 1

Details of Apparatus Licences issued in Broadcasting Services Bands under drops-through made under section 34 of the BSA.

Frequency Bands

Purpose

Area of Australia

Period

526.5 - 532.5 kHz

(AM Channel 531 kHz)

AM Channel 540 kHz also included because stations operating in 526.5 - 532.5 kHz have potential to interfere with reception of broadcasting stations operating on 540 kHz (bandwidth 18 kHz)

for scientific purposes

ONLY EXISTING SERVICES

NO NEW LICENCES TO BE ISSUED

9 September 2008

526.5 - 532.5 kHz

(AM Radio)

for land mobile services

Oakey Creek Mine (QLD)

12 August 2008

45 - 52 MHz

(VHF television channel 0)

for radiocommunications
purposes as specified in the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan

ONLY EXISTING SERVICES

NO NEW LICENCES TO BE ISSUED

9 September 2008

56 - 70 MHz

(VHF television channels 1 and 2)

for radiocommunications
purposes as specified in the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan

ONLY EXISTING SERVICES

NO NEW LICENCES TO BE ISSUED

9 September 2008

85 - 87.5 MHz

(VHF television channel 3)

for land mobile
services

ALL AREAS EXCEPT

within exclusion zone around each transmitter specified in Table 3

19 May 2009

87.5 - 88 MHz

(VHF television channel 3)

for low power open narrowcasting services

ALL AREAS EXCEPT

within exclusion zone around each transmitter specified in Table 3

31 December 2013

88.6 - 88.8 MHz

(VHF television channel 3)

for low power open narrowcasting services for Transpax Pty Ltd

Campbelltown

1 January 2014

137-144 MHz

(VHF television channel 5A)

for radiocommunications
purposes as specified in
the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan

ALL AREAS EXCEPT

WHERE television programs are received on VHF television channel 5A

31 December 2011

93 - 107 MHz

(VHF television channels 4 and 5)

for radiodetermination

Australian Antarctic Territories

19 April 2012

174 - 181 MHz

(VHF television channel 6)

for radiocommunications purposes as specified in the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan

ONLY EXISTING SERVICES

NO NEW LICENCES TO BE ISSUED

19 April 2012

Apparatus licences cannot be issued in broadcasting services bands for purposes not covered by a section 34 drop-through noted in Table 1, above.

Table 2

Details of agreement and determinations made under subsection 31(2) of the Act.

Frequency Bands

Allowed Apparatus Licences

Purpose

Area of Australia

137 - 138 MHz 

Space

Radiocommunications devices that operate in the mobile-satellite service to provide radiocommunications services.

Australia Wide

520 - 820 MHz

Land Mobile

 

Of operating a wireless audio transmitter not exceeding 250mW EIRP on a no interference no protection basis.

Note: wireless audio transmitter includes a wireless microphone.

Australia Wide

Table 3

Details of broadcasting services operating in VHF television channel 3

Frequency

Area Served

Maximum ERP

Category

TX Site

Exclusion Zone

86.250 MHz

Nyngan (NSW)

20 W

National

3 km S of Town

30 km

86.250 MHz

Newcastle/Hunter River (NSW)

200 kW

Commercial

Mt Sugarloaf

150 km

86.260 MHz

Narooma (NSW)

100 W

Commercial

Buckeridge Lookout

30 km

86.260 MHz

Wollongong (NSW)

8 kW

Commercial

Brokers Nose

50 km

87.270 MHz

Townsville (QLD)

160 kW

National

Mt Stuart

130km

86.248 MHz

Renmark/Loxton (SA)

240 kW

National

4 km WSW of Loxton

120 km

86.240 MHz

Bunbury (WA)

100 kW

Commercial

Mt Lennard

150 km

86.248 MHz

Baandee (WA)

1 kW

Commercial

Nareling Hill

50 km

86.250 MHz

Kambalda (WA)

20 W

Commercial

Redhill Lookout

30 km

Table 4

Details of broadcasting services operating in VHF television channel 5A

Frequency

Area Served

Power

Category

TX Site

138.240 MHz

Armidale North (NSW)

100 W

National

Kelly's Plains

138.276 MHz

Newcastle (NSW)

200 kW

National

Mt Sugarloaf

138.250 MHz

Ashford (NSW)

30 W

National

Ashford

138.250 MHz

Quirindi (NSW)

1 kW

National

Who Da Thought It Hill

138.250 MHz

Colac (VIC)

3 kW

National

Warrion Hill

138.250 MHz

Western Victoria (VIC)

130kW

National

Mt Dundas

138.188 MHz

Moranbah (QLD)

4 kW

National

Carborough Range (R/T) [1]

138.250 MHz

Wandoan (QLD)

160 W

National

Nathan Road

138.260 MHz

Bowen (QLD)

10 kW

National

Sprole Castle

138.230 MHz

Cairns North (QLD)

4 kW

Commercial

Buchan Point, (R/T) [1]

138.250 MHz

Herberton (QLD)

40 W

Commercial

Jane Street

138.240 MHz

Mission Beach (QLD)

200 W

Commercial

Dunk Island

138.260 MHz

Renmark/Loxton (SA)

100 kW

Commercial

4 km WSW of Loxton

138.250 MHz

Central Agricultural (WA)

160 kW

National

Doodemanning Road

138.250 MHz

Leeman (WA)

60 W

National

1km S of Leeman

138.182 MHz

Wynyard (TAS)

2 kW

Commercial

Table Cape

Footnotes

Footnote 1 - R/T - Radiotelephone

 

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Last updated: 09 May 2017