Radiocommunications licensing - Overview | ACMA

Radiocommunications licensing - Overview

There are three types of radiocommunications licences:

Radiocommunications equipment typically authorised under an apparatus licence includes stations operating in the Outpost, Amateur, Broadcasting, Maritime, Aircraft and Land Mobile services. Operation of equipment under an apparatus licence involves the payment of licence fees. Individual licences are issued to authorise the operation of equipment.

Class licences are open, standing authorities that allow anyone to operate particular radiocommunications equipment provided that the operation and the device is in keeping with the conditions of the licence. Class licences do not have to be applied for and no licence fees are payable. Equipment that is currently subject to class licensing in Australia includes citizen band radios, mobile phone handsets, cordless telephones and a range of other low power devices, such as garage door openers.

Generally speaking all radiocommunications transmitters must be licensed.  The only exceptions relate to emergencies where a person does not contravene section 46 or 47 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 by operating a radiocommunications device, or having a radiocommunications device in his or her possession, in the reasonable belief that the operation or possession was necessary for the purpose of:

  1. securing the safety of a vessel, aircraft or space object that was in danger; or
  2. dealing with an emergency involving a serious threat to the environment; or
  3. dealing with an emergency involving risk of death of, or injury to, persons; or
  4. dealing with an emergency involving risk of substantial loss of, or substantial damage to, property.

Spectrum licensing is a form of licensing introduced in Australia by the Radiocommunications Act 1992. Spectrum licences are a tradeable, technology neutral (that is, the licence is not related to any particular technology, system or service) spectrum access right for a fixed non renewable term. Instead of authorising the use of a specific device, spectrum licences authorise the use of spectrum space and give licensees the freedom to deploy any device from any site within their spectrum space, provided that the device is compatible with the core conditions of the licence and the technical framework for the bands.

Certain work required for the issue or variation of apparatus licences and for the management of spectrum space under spectrum licences may be performed by persons who have obtained accreditation from the ACMA to carry out such tasks.


Last updated: 08 November 2013