- Class licences
- Citizen band radio stations
- Conditions of operation
- Use of citizen band radio repeater stations
- Call signs
- Contacting other CB users
The operation of Citizen Band (CB) radios is authorised under the Radiocommunications (Citizen Band Radio Stations) Class Licence 2002 (the Citizen Band Radio Stations Class Licence). This policy information paper provides information about the class licence.
Under a class licence, all users operate in the same spectrum segment on a shared basis and are subject to the same conditions. A class licence governs the frequencies that may be used, commonly prescribes equipment standards, and may specify other technical and operational parameters. Class licences do not have to be applied for, and no licence fees are payable.
Class licences are ‘issued’ by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) by a notice published in the Commonwealth Government Notices Gazette. Class licences commence on the later of the day after they are registered under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003 and the day on which the class licence is gazetted.
The Citizen Band Radio Service (CBRS) is a two-way, short distance, communications service that can be used by any person in Australia, whether it is for recreational or domestic purposes, or in connection with work or business.
The service may be used for:
- any form of voice communications activity, including those activities related to voice communications (ie selective calling); and
- telemetry and telecommand applications.
CBRS repeater stations, however, need specific frequency assignments and are licensed individually under apparatus licensing arrangements and are subject to licence fees.
The CBRS operates on designated channels in two distinct frequency bands:
- HF - 26.965 MHz to 27.405 MHz (inclusive); and
- UHF – 476.4125 to 477.4125 MHz (inclusive).
CB radios must only be operated on the channels that are detailed in the class licence.
Operation on a channel that is not specified in the class licence is a breach of a licence condition. An earlier equipment specification, RB249, allowed the use of two channels, 27.095 MHz and 27.195 MHz these are no longer approved for use.
CB radio equipment must not exceed the maximum output power that is specified in the class licence. The attachment of any external devices, such as linear amplifiers, to CB radio equipment, for the purpose of increasing the power output of the transmitter, is not permitted. This type of operation is a breach of the licence conditions.
Interference to television and radio receivers and other electronic equipment may occur when a CB radio transmitter is operated nearby.
If operators find that their CB radios are causing interference to a nearby radio or television receiver, there are a number of steps that can be taken to minimise or eliminate the problem.
To assist operators and their neighbours to resolve interference problems, the ACMA has produced several booklets / information brochures. They are:
- Better television and radio reception - provides general advice to people who are having trouble with television and radio reception and
- Broadcast reception affected by Amateur or CB radio transmission - provides assistance in resolving interference from these transmitters and includes an ACMA Policy Statement which, among other things, aims to promote an understanding of the causes, resolution and avoidance of interference. This should be read in conjunction with the Better television and radio reception booklet; and
- Some Methods for Eliminating Citizens Band Radio Transmissions from your Hi-Fi Stereo or Audio Equipment - which helps determine why this type of interference may be occurring and the steps that may be taken to resolve the problem.
These booklets / information brochures are also available from Infrastructure Policy, ACMA.
CB and Amateur radio operators should be prepared to cooperate with the affected television viewer or radio listener and take reasonable steps towards resolving the problem.
Selective calling is a technique used to enable the reception of calls from particular CB radios without having to listen to other users. Selective calling uses the transmission of audio tones that are recognisable to receivers fitted with a compatible decoder.
Some CB radios come fitted with a selective calling facility using Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) techniques.
The use of CTCSS is only authorised on UHF CB bands. HF CB radios may only use SelCall.
Telemetry is the process of obtaining measurements and relaying them, for recording or display, at a distant point. Telecommand is the electronic remote control of equipment.
- monitoring water levels in dams;
- controlling equipment such as irrigation pumps; and
- opening and closing gates.
The class licence authorises the use of telemetry and telecommand applications on UHF channels 22 and 23.
Devices operating under the class licence, must comply with all radiocommunications standards applicable to them. 'Standard' in this context means a standard made under section 162 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act).
It is important that CB radio users comply with each condition in the class licence. Section 132(3) of the Act provides that:
'Operation of a radiocommunications device is not authorised by a class licence if it is not in accordance with the conditions of the licence.'
If any condition of licence is breached (eg, operating on a frequency not mentioned in the class licence or using an emergency channel for non emergency purpose) the operator is no longer authorised to operate under the class licence. In this instance, the operator would be liable for prosecution.
As well as specific conditions spelt out in the class licence, operation of a CB radio is also subject to the provisions of the Act.
Other types of data operation, such as Packet Radio, are not permitted on CB bands.
Voice communications is not permitted on UHF CB channels 22 and 23.
Telemetry and telecommand is not permitted on any channel other than UHF CB channels 22 and 23.
Under the class licence system, CB radio stations may operate through a CB repeater station in the UHF band.
Because UHF CB repeater stations are usually located at hilltop radiocommunication sites, their frequencies are co-ordinated with the frequencies of other radiocommunications services to prevent interference. They are required to be covered under separate apparatus licences, not a class licence.
When in range of a repeater station, CB operators must only use the repeater's assigned channels for the purpose of operating through that repeater.
Channels 1 to 8 and 41 to 48 are designated as repeater output channels, with channels 31 to 38 and 71 to 78 the corresponding designated repeater input channels. For example, a repeater that transmits on Channel 1 will always receive on Channel 31. When operated in duplex/repeater mode, the CB radio automatically selects corresponding transmit/receive frequencies.
Repeater channels may be used for single frequency communications where they are not used in the locality for repeaters. Channels 5 and 35, however, are dedicated for emergency communications only.
As repeater stations are generally located at high sites, single frequency operation on repeater channels may interfere with communications through the repeater station even though the interfering station is located tens of kilometres from the repeater station. Communications through repeater stations are particularly susceptible to interference from single frequency operation on the repeater input channel.
Channels 5 and 35 must ONLY be used for emergency communications. This requirement applies to operation through a repeater station and single frequency operation.
Under the class licensing arrangements, call signs will not be issued to individual users. However, the ACMA recommends that operators use some form of identification when transmitting.
In the two CBRS bands, specific channels have been set aside for making initial contact with other CB users. Under the class licence, channel 11 (AM) (27.085 MHz) and channel 16 (SSB) (27.155 MHz) are the calling channels in the HF band and channel 11 (476.675 MHz) is the calling channel in the UHF band. The channels are to be used only for initial calling.
Once a caller has made initial contact with another CBRS operator, he or she should move to another channel to continue the contact. This leaves the call channel available for other CBRS operators to establish contact with each other.
There are specific channels in the two CB radio bands available for use in an emergency. These are channel 9 (27.065 MHz) in the HF band and channels 5/35 (476.525/477.275 MHz) in the UHF band.
These channels are designated for emergency messages only and, under the class licence, must not be used for other purposes.
Although the ACMA does not monitor these emergency channels, there are organisations that do so voluntarily - but not on a full time basis, nor Australia wide. These organisations can assist in contacting the appropriate emergency service.
In an emergency, any CB frequency may be used to attract attention.
Where a CB radio station is to be connected to a Public Telecommunications Network, it must be done in accordance with the Telecommunications Labelling (Customer Equipment and Customer Cabling) Notice 2001. For further information on this matter, please contact the ACMA's Technical Regulation Development Section.