The ACMA

Radiocomms licensing

Class licences

Citizen band radio stations class licence

Citizen Band (CB) radios are short distance devices that can be used by anyone in Australia. All CB devices are authorised by the Radiocommunications (Citizen Band Radio Stations) Class Licence 2015 (the Citizen Band Radio Stations Class Licence). This page has information about this licence and how it operates.

More information


The operation of Citizen Band (CB) radios is authorised under.

Class licences

Class licences are issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA). 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 use of devices covered by a class licence is subject to specific conditions in the class licence as well as the provisions of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act).

Citizen band radio service

The Citizen Band Radio Service (CBRS) is a two-way, short distance, communications service that can be used by any person in Australia, whether it is for recreational or domestic purposes, or in connection with work or business.

CBRS may be used for:

  1. any form of voice communications activity

  2. telemetry and telecommand applications.

CBRS repeater stations need specific frequency assignments and are licensed individually under apparatus licensing arrangements and are subject to licence fees.

Conditions of operation

Operating frequencies

The CBRS operates on designated channels in two distinct frequency bands:

  1. HF - 26.965 MHz to 27.405 MHz (inclusive)

  2. UHF – 476.4125 to 477.4125 MHz (inclusive).

CB radios must only be operated on these channels. An earlier equipment specification, RB249, allowed the use of two channels, 27.095 MHz and 27.195 MHz these are no longer approved for use.

Operating CB devices on a channel that is not specified in the class licence is a breach of a licence condition, and makes you liable to prosecution.

Transmitter power levels

CB radio equipment must not exceed the maximum output power specified in the class licence. You are not permitted to attach any external devices, such as linear amplifiers, to CB radio equipment, for the purpose of increasing the power output of the transmitter. This type of operation is a breach of the licence conditions.

Interference management

A CB radio transmitter can cause interference to nearby television and radio receivers and other electronic equipment.

If you find that your CB radio is causing interference to a nearby radio or television receiver, there are a number of steps that you can take to minimise or eliminate the problem. The ACMA has produced information to assist you:

  1. Better television and radio reception – A PDF with general advice for people who are having trouble with television and radio reception.

  2. Broadcast reception affected by Amateur or CB radio transmission - provides assistance in resolving interference from these transmitters and includes an ACMA Policy Statement to promote understanding of the causes, resolution and avoidance of interference. This should be read in conjunction with the Better television and radio reception booklet.

  3. Some Methods for Eliminating Citizens Band Radio Transmissions from your Hi-Fi Stereo or Audio Equipment - helps determine why this type of interference may be occurring and steps you can take to resolve the problem.

CB and Amateur radio operators must be prepared to cooperate with any affected television viewers or radio listeners and take reasonable steps towards resolving interference problems.

Selective calling

Selective calling is a technique to receive calls from particular CB radios without having to listen to other users. Selective calling uses the transmission of audio tones that are recognisable to receivers fitted with a compatible decoder.

Some CB radios come fitted with a selective calling facility using Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) techniques.

The use of CTCSS is only authorised on UHF CB bands. HF CB radios may only use SelCall.

Telemetry and telecommand

Telemetry is the process of obtaining measurements and relaying them at a distant point. Telecommand is the electronic remote control of equipment.

Examples include:

  1. monitoring water levels in dams

  2. controlling equipment such as irrigation pumps

  3. opening and closing gates.

The CBRS class licence authorises the use of telemetry and telecommand applications on UHF channels 22 and 23.

Compliance with standards

Devices operating under the class licence must comply with all relevant radiocommunications standards. 'Standard' in this context means a standard made under section 162 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act).

Breaches of licence conditions

CB radio users must comply with all conditions in the class licence. Section 132(3) of the Act provides that:

'Operation of a radiocommunications 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, or using an emergency channel for non-emergency purposes) you are no longer authorised under the class licence and may be liable for prosecution.

Uses not permitted

Other types of data operation, such as Packet Radio, are not permitted on CB bands.

Voice communications is not permitted on UHF CB channels 22 and 23.

Telemetry and telecommand is not permitted on any channel other than UHF CB channels 22 and 23.

Use of citizen band radio repeater stations

CB radio stations may operate through a CB repeater station in the UHF band.

UHF CB repeater stations are usually located at hilltop radiocommunication sites, and their frequencies are co-ordinated with the frequencies of other radiocommunications services to prevent interference. They must be covered by separate apparatus licences, not a class licence.

When operating in range of a repeater station, CB operators must only use the repeater's assigned channels.

Channels 1 to 8 and 41 to 48 are designated as repeater output channels, and channels 31 to 38 and 71 to 78 are the corresponding designated repeater input channels. For example, a repeater that transmits on Channel 1 will always receive on Channel 31. When operated in duplex/repeater mode, the CB radio automatically selects corresponding transmit/receive frequencies.

Channels 5 and 35 must ONLY be used for emergency communications.

In locations where they are not being used by a repeater station, repeater channels may be used for single frequency communications.

As repeater stations are generally located at high sites, single frequency operation on repeater channels may interfere with the repeater station, even though the interfering station is located many kilometres from the repeater station. Communications through repeater stations are particularly susceptible to interference from single frequency operation on the repeater input channel.

Call signs

Learn about the class licence that authorises Citizen Band (CB) radio use.

Under the class licensing arrangements, call signs are not issued to individual users. However, the ACMA recommends that operators use some form of identification when transmitting.

Contacting other CB users

In the two CBRS bands, specific channels have been set aside for making initial contact with other CB users. Under the class licence, channel 11 (AM) (27.085 MHz) and channel 16 (SSB) (27.155 MHz) are the calling channels in the HF band and channel 11 (476.675 MHz) is the calling channel in the UHF band. The channels are only to be used for initial calling.

Once you have made initial contact with another CBRS operator, you should move to another channel to continue the contact. This leaves the call channel available for other CBRS operators to establish contact with each other.

Emergencies

In an emergency, any CB frequency may be used to attract attention.

There are specific channels in the two CB radio bands reserved only for emergency use. These are channel 9 (27.065 MHz) in the HF band and channels 5/35 (476.525/477.275 MHz) in the UHF band.

These channels are designated for emergency messages only and must not be used for other purposes.

Although the ACMA does not monitor these emergency channels, there are organisations that do so voluntarily. This monitoring is not full time, and is not Australia-wide. These organisations can assist in contacting the appropriate emergency service.

Connection to the telephone network

If you want to connect a CB radio station to a Public Telecommunications Network, you must do it in accordance with the Telecommunications (Labelling notice for Customer Equipment and Customer Cabling) Instrument 2015. For further information on this matter, please contact the ACMA's Standards Section.

Footnotes

  1. AM - Amplitude Modulated

  2. SSB - Single Side Band


Last updated: 07 December 2016

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