About spectrum embargo areas | ACMA

About spectrum embargo areas

Spectrum embargoes are a tool used to facilitate orderly spectrum planning. Embargoes give notice of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (the ACMA) intention to restrict the allocation of new licences in a band, pending its replanning. They also alert industry to the start of a planning process.

An embargo includes:

  • details of the frequency band
  • date of effect
  • coverage area
  • time frame
  • instructions
  • reasons
  • supplementary comments.

Australia as a geographical area

The definition of Australia, when used in a geographical sense, includes:

  • Australia and its territorial sea
  • the external Territories and their territorial seas
  • the offshore areas of the States and Territories, but only when there is some connection with the exploration or exploitation of resources on the continental shelf of Australia or of an external territory
  • the Western Greater Sunrise area, but only when there is some connection with the exploration or exploitation of resources in the Greater Sunrise unit reservoirs. 

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The definition of "territorial sea" is as per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The term "offshore area" has the same meaning as in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act). For more information about the territorial seas and offshore areas, refer to Geoscience Australia's information on Australia's Marine Jurisdiction.

The above interpretation applies whenever reference is made to "Australia", "Australia or its Territories" or "Australia or its Territories and adjacent areas" in Spectrum Embargoes, Radiocommunications Notices, Radiocommunications Declarations and Radiocommunications Determinations. Usages such as "throughout Australia" or "Australia-wide" are also taken to encompass all of Australia. Some references to Australia may be qualified to exclude certain areas from consideration, such as "throughout Australia except the external Territories". Where external Territories are excluded from an embargo area, the territorial sea surrounding them is also excluded.

NB: The above image extends to the offshore areas defined in sections 17 and 17A of the Radiocommunications Act 1992. These areas are considered part of Australia for the purpose of radiocommunications licensing to the extent it relates to resource exploration and exploitation. Where applicable to an embargo, these areas have been differentiated by colour coding (using the same colours as the above map) for placemark data or by attribute value for shapefile data. The offshore area boundaries included in the embargo area data have been derived from the most recent maritime boundary data publicly available from Geoscience Australia, however these boundaries are subject to change and the embargo area data will be updated as revised maritime boundary data becomes available.

Spatial data formats

Embargo area boundaries are available in two spatial data formats: shapefiles and placemarks.

Shapefiles are a widely supported GIS spatial data format, usually distributed in a ZIP archive. No generalisation is applied to embargo areas represented in shapefiles.

Placemarks, also known as Keyhole Markup Language (KML) files, contain spatial data which can be displayed by various software packages such as Google Earth. Due to limitations in commonly available viewing software, the representation of some embargo areas has been generalised so that the boundaries are displayed properly; where generalisation has been applied, a placemark's description will contain an explicit statement concerning the level of generalisation that has been applied.

Datums and coordinate systems

Embargo area data supplied in shapefile format uses GDA94 geographic coordinates.

The KML specifications mandate the use of the WGS84 geographic coordinates. For embargo area data supplied as placemarks, GDA94 coordinates are used. These coordinates are deemed to be sufficiently accurate substitutes for WGS84 coordinates in accordance with the current advice of the Inter-governmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM).

Last updated: 18 July 2016