The ACMA regulates the use of the radiofrequency spectrum by space objects in accordance with:
- Australian legislation such as the Radiocommunications Act 1992 and the Telecommunications Act 1997; and
- International treaty arrangements such as those entered into by Australia with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The ITU, through its Radio Regulations, establishes arrangements to facilitate use of radiofrequency spectrum by space objects such as satellite networks. In order to assist coordination with other services, it publishes information about the technical and operational characteristics of proposed satellite networks and maintains a Master International Frequency Register (MIFR).
The main way that a satellite network meets regulations for using Australian spectrum is by acquiring the appropriate operating licence from the ACMA.
The main way that it addresses international arrangements is by operating in accordance with the Radio Regulations of the ITU, and via the coordination and notification process, achieving a listing on the ITU's MIFR.
Before it can provide radiocommunications services, a satellite network must have been filed with the ITU, either by the ACMA or by another country’s Administration.
If your satellite network has already been filed with the ITU, and you want to provide satellite services in Australia, you must apply to the ACMA for an appropriate radiocommunications licence to authorise those services.
If your satellite network has not been filed with the ITU, and you want to provide satellite services in Australia, you have to file details of the service to the ITU via the ACMA or via another country's Administration. The ACMA will not submit any such filing to the ITU or issue a licence unless you follow the correct filing procedure, and assess that your service meets the ITU's technical criteria.
The main purpose of Australian and international regulations in relation to space systems is to:
- maximise the number of radiocommunications services that can be established while minimising the potential for interference between them; and
- promote efficient and rational use of the radiofrequency spectrum.
The issuing of radiocommunications licences enables the ACMA to manage radiofrequency spectrum more effectively. Only licensed services are provided protection from interference by the ACMA. Licence fees are charged to encourage efficiency in the way spectrum is used, provide a return to government for private use of a community resource and recover costs incurred in managing the radiofrequency spectrum.
In relation to space systems, the ACMA regulates:
|Use of the radiofrequency spectrum||by coordinating and licensing the operation of proposed radiocommunications services.|
|Operational performance of radiocommunications devices||by imposing equipment standards on the manufacturers, importers and sellers of radiocommunications devices such as transmitters and receivers in order to ensure appropriate performance standards.|
|Operation of a space based networks as telecommunications carriers||by licensing the operation of networks used specifically as carrier links for telecommunications purposes.|
Space Activities Act 1998
Commercial space activities such as space launches is covered by the Space Activities Act 1998, which sets out a regulatory framework that meets Australia's obligations under international space law and to its citizens.
Under this Act, certain space activities are prohibited unless appropriate approvals are obtained e.g. a licence is required to operate a space launch facility. Non-compliance with this requirement invites fines and/or possible imprisonment.
Responsibility for implementing the regulatory and safety regime for commercial space activities is given to the Space Licensing and Safety Office (SLASO) within the Department of Industry, Science and Resources. SLASLO enforces the provisions of the Space Activities Act and any agreements entered into by the Commonwealth for commercial space launch projects.