Space system apparatus licences | ACMA

Space system apparatus licences

This page discusses the different types of apparatus licence that apply to space based networks, and their licence conditions, that are issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA).

A network that uses space objects such as satellites may require one or more of the following apparatus licences to legally operate:

  1. Earth licence

  2. Earth receive licence

  3. Space licence

  4. Space receive licence.

All of these licence types are defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determinations 2005.

Earth licence

Earth licences authorise the operation of one or more earth stations.

Every individual frequency band used by each station is required to be licensed separately under an Earth licence, except in the following circumstances:

  1. amateur satellite frequencies used by Amateur stations (authorised by an Amateur licence)

  2. frequencies used to communicate with licensed space stations that are authorised by the Radiocommunications (Communication with Space Object) Class Licence 2015.

There are two apparatus licensing options for Earth licences:

  1. Fixed Earth - used for earth stations operating from a fixed point that communicate with space stations or with other earth stations via space stations. Relevant frequency assignments are printed on the licence. This licensing option is not used to authorise the operation of mobile earth stations.

  2. Mobile Earth - used for earth stations that are in motion, or during halts at unspecified points on land, on water, or in the air. Relevant frequency assignments are printed on the licence.

Earth receive licence

Earth receive stations may be fixed or mobile, and communicate with space stations or with other earth stations via space stations. Earth receive stations have receivers but do not transmit. Any receiver that is, or forms part of, an earth receive station requires a licence.

Space licence

A Space licence authorises the transmission of radio emissions by one or more space stations. The Space licence type is defined in the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act).

If a Space licence is in place in the space-to-Earth radiofrequency bands listed in the Radiocommunications (Communication with Space Object) Class Licence 2015, the operation of an Earth receive station is authorised by this Class Licence.

In all other instances, apparatus licences must be issued to authorise the earth stations.

Space receive licence

A Space receive licence authorises the reception of radio emissions by one or more space stations.

If a Space receive licence is in place in the Earth-to-space radiofrequency bands listed in the Radiocommunications (Communication with Space Object) Class Licence 2015, operations of Earth transmit station are authorised by this Class Licence.

Apparatus licence conditions

The operation of radiocommunications equipment under an apparatus licence is subject to conditions specified:

  1. in the Act, including an obligation to comply with the Act

  2. in any determination made by the ACMA under paragraph 107(1)(f) of the Act

  3. in the licence

  4. by the ACMA under section 111 of the Act

  5. by apparatus licence standards and equipment standards.

Conditions are applied to licences to enable users to communicate effectively with a minimum of interference. Conditions must be complied with.

Licence Conditions Determinations

The ACMA may impose specific conditions on apparatus licences known as Licence Conditions Determinations (LCDs). These conditions may change from time to time, so a licensee needs to check regularly to see if and how they have changed.

The only LCD applying to space systems is the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015, which contains licence conditions that are common to all apparatus licences.

Special conditions

Any other conditions of operation that apply to an individual licence but which are not included in an LCD are printed on the licence under the heading Special Conditions.

An accredited person may ask the ACMA to impose one or more conditions on the licence according to the circumstances in which the frequency assignments for the licence are made.

Advisory notes

Advisory notes provide information about the licence that may be of interest to a licensee.

An accredited person may ask the ACMA to impose one or more advisory notes on the licence according to the circumstances in which the frequency assignments for the licence are made.

Duration

Apparatus licences may be issued for periods varying from one day to up to five years. The most common period is one year.

Transfers

If you hold an apparatus licence you may transfer it. To do so you must complete an Application for Transfer of Apparatus Licence(s) (R060) form and submit it to the ACMA. Both you and transferee must sign the form. A transfer charge is payable to cover the ACMA's administrative expenses.

  1. All apparatus authorised by the licence must continue to operate under the same technical conditions specified on the original licence.

  2. Licences issued on the basis of a fee exemption or concession cannot be transferred, except to someone who is eligible for the same exemption or concession.

Third party authorisations

Under section 114 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992, subject to specified conditions, a licence holder may authorise other persons, in writing, to operate an apparatus under the same licence. Authorised third parties remain subject to all of the conditions applicable to the device under the licence.

Call signs

Call signs are a unique series of letters and/or numbers allocated to a radiocommunications user for identification purposes.

At the start of each transmission, the licensee of an Earth, Earth receive, Space, and Space receive station must use either:

  1. a form of identification that clearly identifies that station

  2. a call sign allocated by the ACMA.

Call signs allocated to stations have to conform to International Telecommunication Union Radio Regulations and must be used for all on-air communications including testing.

Callsign template

Licence type

Call sign template

Examples

Earth

AXmn, Axmnn

AX82 or AX205

Earth Receive

AXmn, Axmnn, VZmnn, VNmnn, VMmnn

AX82 or AX205

Space Receive

An or Bn

A1 or B2

Space

An or Bn

A1 or B2


m equates to a number in the range 2-9

Licence fees

Spectrum is a valuable resource. Fees are intended to ensure a fair return to the Commonwealth for the private use of this valuable public resource. Licence fees are set having regard to spectrum location, geographical location, amount of spectrum occupied and coverage area authorised by the licence.

Detailed information about fees is provided in the Radiocommunications Apparatus Licence Fees and Charges booklet. 

Last updated: 11 May 2017