Transmitter installation regulatory arrangements | ACMA

Transmitter installation regulatory arrangements

This provides guidance on regulatory arrangements for transmitter installations.

What are the electromagnetic energy (EME) apparatus licence conditions?

The EME apparatus licence conditions are set out in Part 3 and 4 of the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2003 ("the Determination"), which is available on the ACMA website.

The Determination stipulates the level of emissions from a transmitter must not exceed the reference levels for general public exposure category of the ARPANSA standard at places accessible to a member of the general public. The ARPANSA standard is the document Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields - 3 kHz to 300 GHz published by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). A copy may be obtained from their website at www.arpansa.gov.au

Examples of places accessible to a member of the general public are: private residence, public park, building roof top with a transmitter antenna located on the roof top, where access is not restricted by the site manager or operator.

Members of the general public means all persons with the exception of those who may be exposed to radiofrequency fields under controlled conditions, in the course of and intrinsic to the nature of their work.

The reference levels for general public exposure are listed in Table 7 and Table 8 of the ARPANSA standard.

What types of transmitters need to be EME assessed?

Transmitter installations can be categorised into one of two levels - known as Compliance Level 1 or Compliance Level 2 categories. Only Compliance Level 2 transmitters need to be assessed against the EME limits and hold records demonstrating compliance.

The Compliance Level 1 category applies to a transmitter installation that meets any of the following criteria:

  1. a mobile transmitter with an average total power not more than 100 watts; or

  2. the transmitter installation is a point to point link operating above 1 GHz; or

  3. the average total power supplied by the transmitter to all antennas fed by the transmitter is not more than 100 watts and each antenna fed by the transmitter is installed so that it is inaccessible to a member of the general public; or

  4. the average total equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) of all antennas fed by the transmitter does not exceed 3,200 watts in any direction and the bottom of the lowest antenna fed by the transmitter is at least 10 metres above ground level.

The Compliance Level 2 category covers all transmitter installations that do not meet any of the above criteria for the Compliance Level 1 category.

If your transmitter installation is in the Compliance Level 2 category, then, as the licensee, it is your responsibility to have the facility assessed against the exposure limits of the ARPANSA standard and to also hold records showing compliance with the exposure limits.

If your transmitter installation is a Compliance Level 1 category, you do not need to hold records.

Will there be many Compliance Level 2 category installations?

As a general statement, the majority of radiocommunications facilities will fall into the Compliance Level 1 category. However, your transmitter should be checked against the criteria to determine whether it is in the Compliance Level 1 or Compliance Level 2 category.

What do I have to do?

Compliance Level 1 category

If your transmitter is in the Compliance Level 1 category, you must comply with the EME limits, but are not required to hold or maintain compliance records. You still, however, have a duty of care to ensure the operation of your transmitter does not expose the public to electromagnetic radiation in excess of the health exposure requirements. You do not need to read any further if your transmitter is Compliance Level 1.

Compliance Level 2 category

If you are a Compliance Level 2 category licensee, your transmitter must comply with the EME limits, and you must keep compliance records that show the process by which compliance has been determined. Further information on compliance records is available.

If audited, licensees have 20 days from the receipt of an Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) written notice to produce compliance documentation.

What are the EME requirements for mobile transmitters?

Under ACMA's EME arrangements, mobile transmitters can be categorised into two types.

  1. Transmitters installed for mobile use in vehicles, boats etc.If the average transmitter power for this type of mobile transmitter is not more than 100 W (watts), then the facility is Compliance Level 1. If the average transmitter power is more than 100 W, the transmitter installation is Compliance Level 2. Licensees' responsibilities for Compliance Level 1 and Compliance Level 2 installations are explained in the above question: What do I have to do? Instructions for calculating average transmitter power are given in Step 4 and Step 5 of the question below: How do I find out if my transmitter is in the Compliance Level 1 or Compliance Level 2 category?
  2. Type 2 - Mobile (portable) transmitters with an integral antenna intended for use close to the human body (i.e. cellular phones, walkie talkies, remote controlled toys etc.).For this type of mobile (portable) transmitter it is the responsibility of either the Australian manufacturer or importer who places the product on the market to ensure the product complies with the EME arrangements Responsibilities of manufacturers and importers are detailed in the booklet: Information for manufacturers, importers and agents of mobile and portable radiocommunications transmitters with integral antennas. This booklet can be obtained from the ACMA website.

How do I find out if my transmitter installation is in the Compliance Level 1 or Compliance Level 2 category?

The following steps will assist you to determine the category of your transmitter.

Note: The following information does not apply to mobile transmitters. For information on mobile transmitters - please refer to the question: What are the EME requirements for mobile transmitters?

The process involves checking information on your apparatus licence (transmitter licence) issued by ACMA to authorise the operation of your transmitter.

Some aspects of the process will require technical knowledge of radio systems. If in doubt - please talk to your equipment service provider.

Step 1

Is your transmitter covered by a licence type with an associated licensing option description listed in Table 1 below?

The first step is to check the licence type and the licensing option description printed on your apparatus licence (transmitter licence). The licensing option description is the sentence on the licence just below the callsign.

If the licence type printed on your transmitter licence is:

  1. a type listed in the licence type column of Table 1 (for example, Licence Type: Fixed); and

  2. the licensing option description printed on your licence contains a set of words listed in the licensing option column of Table 1 (for example, point to multipoint); and

If the antenna is inaccessible to the general public, t the transmitter is in the Compliance Level 1 category, and you may exit from the following steps and go to the question above: What do I have to do?

If the licence type and licensing option description printed on your transmitter licence is different to those specified in Table 1 - then progress to Step 2.

Step 2

Is your transmitter a point to point link that operates on a frequency above 1 GHz? A point to point link means a fixed station that is operated principally for communication with another fixed station (eg microwave link).

An easy way to find out this information is to examine the apparatus licence (transmitter licence) that was issued to you by ACMA. The licence stipulates the operational requirements of your transmitter.

If your apparatus licence contains all of the following information shown in bold print below - then your transmitter is in the Compliance Level 1 category, and you may exit from the following steps and go to the question above: What do I have to do?

Information on Apparatus Licence

Licence Type: FixedLicence Number:Callsign:

This Fixed licence authorises the operation of one point to point station at each location specified below.

Spectrum Access:Assigned Frequency: Check to see that the frequency printed here is above 1 GHz.

If your licence does not contain the information above - then progress to Step 3.

Step 3

The next step is to determine the maximum transmitter power of your transmitter. In most cases, this information can be obtained from your apparatus licence.

If the licence shows a Transmitter Power of no more than 100 W (watts) and the antenna for the transmitter is inaccessible to the general public - then this is a Compliance Level 1 transmitter and you may exit from the following steps and go to the question above: What do I have to do?

If the licence shows no information against Transmitter Power - then please seek advice from your equipment service provider to find the Transmitter Power by other means.

If the Transmitter Power shown on the licence is greater than 100 W - then progress to Step 4.

Step 4

If the transmitter power on the licence is greater than 100 W an examination of the transmitter's cumulative operating time over a 6 minute period is required to calculate the Average Transmitter Power.

Example for calculating Average Transmitter Power:

Equation (1): Average Transmitter Power = Transmitter Power x Transmission Time Ratio

To use Equation (1) you must obtain the following information:

  1. First step is to find the Transmitter Power printed on the licence. For this example it is assumed to be 210 W.

  2. Second step is to measure or estimate your transmitter's Total Transmission Time over a 6 minute period. For this example it is estimated that the transmitter's Total Transmission Time is equal to 2 minutes over a 6 minute period. (ie Total Transmission Time = 2 minutes).

Note: Transmitting time (over a 6 minute period) applies only to a transmitter that operates on frequencies between 100 kHz and 10 GHz and should be measured or estimated for peak operational conditions.)

  1. Next step is to calculate your transmitter's Transmission Time Ratio by using the above data in the following equation:Equation (2)Transmission Time Ratio = Total Transmission Time/6 minutes = 2 minutes/6 minutes = 1/3

  2. Now calculate the value of Average Transmitter Power by substituting the obtained value of Transmitter Power and Transmission Time Ratio (i.e. point (a) and point (c) above) into Equation (1):

As the calculated Average Transmitter Power of 70 W is less than 100 W; and if the antenna of the transmitter is inaccessible to the general public - then this installation is in the Compliance Level 1 category.

If the Average Transmitter Power of your transmitter is calculated to be less than 100 W and the antenna for the transmitter is inaccessible to the general public - then this is a Compliance Level 1 category transmitter and you may exit from the following steps and go to the question above: What do I have to do?

If the calculated Average Transmitter Power is greater than 100 W - then progress to Step 5.

Step 5

Where the calculated Average Transmitter Power is greater than 100 W, then the following information about your transmitter should be obtained:

  1. Average Transmitter Power (already obtained in Step 4);

  2. Height of the antenna above the ground; and

  3. Linear Gain of the antenna:

The gain of an antenna can usually be provided by the antenna manufacturer. It is generally expressed in logarithmic units, either dBd or dBi. If the antenna gain is expressed in dBd, it will need to be converted to dBi units. This is done by adding the number 2.15 to the dBd figure. For example, 10 dBd is equivalent to 12.15 dBi.

Once the logarithmic dBi gain of your antenna is known, this figure must then be converted to a linear gain using the following mathematical Equation (3). Some advanced knowledge of mathematics and use of a scientific calculator is needed to perform the calculation.

Equation (3): Linear Gain = 10dBi/10.

Example for converting logarithmic gain (dBi) of an antenna into linear gain:

In this example, the logarithmic dBi gain of the antenna is 12.15 dBi.

Substitute the above dBi gain of the antenna (12.15 dBi) into Equation (3).

Linear Gain

= 10dBi/10


= 1012.15/10


= 101.215


= 16.4

The Linear Gain of the antenna is 16.4.

Now use the Average Transmitter Power (obtained in Step 4) and Linear Gain of the antenna (obtained above) to calculate the Average Equivalent Isotropically Radiated Power (EIRP) of the transmitter installation by applying Equation (4) below:

Equation (4): Average EIRP = Average Transmitter Power x (multiplied by) Linear Gain of the antenna

If the calculated average EIRP does not exceed 3,200 W and the height of the antenna above the ground is more than 10 metres - then this is a Compliance Level 1 category transmitter. The height of the antenna is to be measured from the part of the antenna that is closest to the ground.

However, if the calculated EIRP (average) is greater than 3,200 W, or the height of the antenna above the ground is less than 10 metres - then your transmitter facility is in the Compliance Level 2 category.  

Average Transmitter Power

= Transmitter Power x Transmission Time Ratio


= 210 W x 1/3


= 70 W

How can I have my transmitter installation assessed?

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) recommends that only people with experience in assessing radiofrequency fields should conduct an assessment.

There are a number of organisations around Australia that are qualified to make assessments of EME compliance. If you require the highest level of confidence that your transmitter complies with the EME limits, the ACMA recommends using a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited organisation to assess radiofrequency field strengths. NATA provides a list of organisations on their website at www.nata.asn.au. The ACMA has also made available general guidelines and self assessment supplements to provide basic guidance on assessing exposure levels around various transmitter stations listed below:

  1. land mobile base stations
  2. paging services
  3. low power radio and television broadcasting (above 30 MHz)
  4. amateur radio
  5. general radiocommunications above 30 MHz (not covered by one of the above supplements).

The general guidelines and self assessment supplements are on the ACMA website.

Do I need the original assessment report?

It is not necessary to have the original assessment report. A clear copy is acceptable.

What if changes are made to a transmitter installation?

If you make any changes to your transmitter installation, such as moving to a different site, altering the power feed to the antenna or changing any characteristics of the antenna, then compliance must be reassessed and, if needed, new compliance records established.

A change in site location, increased transmitter power or antenna characteristics will require, for some licence types, approval from the ACMA to allow transmitter operation.

Is an assessment report to the old AS/NZS 2772.1 standard acceptable?

Yes. An assessment report made before 1 March 2003 that shows your transmitter installation complies with the old AS/NZS 2772.1(Int)1998 standard for non-occupational exposure limits is an acceptable assessment report. For these installations, reassessment against the ARPANSA standard is not necessary.

Note: AS/NZS 2772.1 (Int) 1998 is the former Australian Standard AS/NZS 2772.1(Int) 1998 - Radiofrequency Fields Part 1: Maximum Exposure Levels - 3kHz to 300 GHz. This standard has been withdrawn by Standards Australia.

What about transmitters installed at a site with other transmitters? Do individual transmitters at such a site need to be assessed against EME requirements?

One evaluation of the site, taken as a whole, that shows compliance with the health exposure requirement is sufficient evidence to show that each transmitter on the site also complies with the requirements.

The ACMA encourages licensees operating at a multiple transmitter site that requires assessment to cooperate and establish site documentation. This has the advantage of reducing assessment costs for each licensee. You can find licensee's details at a site on the ACMA's Register of Radiocommunications Licences page. The details in the Register are sufficient to enable contact between licensees to arrange a single site assessment.

Last updated: 31 July 2017