Cellular mobile devices | ACMA

Cellular mobile devices

This page is about the class licence that authorises mobile phone handsets and non-mobile data devices, such as Automatic Teller Machines and soft drink machines. It contains information on the licence and how it operates.

The Radiocommunications (Cellular Mobile Telecommunications Devices) Class Licence 2014 (the Cellular Mobile Class Licence) authorises the operation of radiocommunications devices that communicate with a station authorised under a Public Telecommunication Service (PTS) apparatus licence, also known as a 'base' station.

More information

Class licences

Class licences authorise the operation of many radiocommunications devices, in accordance with the conditions of the licence. These devices are typically low power transmitters that provide short range communications and do not require individual frequency co-ordination for managing interference. Examples of equipment covered by class licences include garage door openers, remote control models (ships, aircraft and cars), and mobile and cellular telephone handsets.

Under a class licence, all users share the same spectrum segment and are subject to the same conditions. A class licence governs equipment standards and the frequencies that may be used, and can specify other technical and operational parameters. Class licences do not have to be applied for, and no licence fees are payable.

The operation of class licensed devices is subject to specific conditions detailed in the class licence in addition to the provisions of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act).

Class licences are issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA). Since 1 January 2005, class licences usually commence the day after they are registered under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003. The Cellular Mobile Class Licence came into effect on 29 May 2002.

Devices authorised by this licence

The Cellular Mobile Class Licence covers cellular mobile telephone handsets and non-mobile data devices, commonly located in soft drink vending machines and automatic teller machines.

Cellular telephones communicate with the public telephone network via radio signals between the handset and a base station. The data devices transmit data messages to base stations such as supplies are running low or more money is required.

Amendments to the Cellular Mobile Class Licence authorise the operation of a mobile device in an airborne aircraft to communicate with licensed apparatus on board the aircraft.

Conditions of operation

Breaches of licence conditions

Users of class licensed devices must comply with all conditions in the class licence. Subsection 132(3) of the Act states:

'Operation of a radio-communications device is not authorised by a class licence if it is not in accordance with the conditions of the licence.'

If you breach any condition of the class licence (for example, operating on a frequency not mentioned in the class licence) you are no longer authorised under the class licence and may be liable for prosecution.

Complying with standards

Devices operating under the class licence that were manufactured, imported, or modified after 29 May 2002, must comply with all relevant radiocommunications standards. 'Standard' in this context means a standard made under section 162 of the Act.

Cellular mobile telephone handsets are required to comply with the ARPANSA standard which limits human exposure to electromagnetic energy (EME)  from radiocommunications transmitters. Further information is available here

Complying with technical requirements

Devices operating under the class licence must comply with relevant technical standards specified in Schedule 1 of the Cellular Mobile Class Licence. Technical standards are made under section 376 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

Operating frequencies

The Cellular Mobile Class Licence authorises anyone to operate a radiocommunications device under the class licence, but only on the licensed frequencies assigned to the base station that it communicates with. The device must:

  1. transmit only on a frequency on which the station authorised under a PTS apparatus licence is authorised to receive

  2. receive only on a frequency on which the station authorised under a PTS apparatus licence is authorised to transmit.

Licensing information

While the Cellular Mobile Class Licence authorises handsets and non-mobile data devices, base stations must be licensed under a PTS apparatus licence.

For more information about this class licence, contact the Radiocommunications Licensing and Telecommunications Deployment Section.

Ph: 1300 850 115



Last updated: 05 December 2016