An earth station is a radiocommunications transmitter that is not located on a space object and which is used to transmit radio emissions to/from a space object or to an earth receive station via a space object.
An earth receive station is a radiocommunications receiver that is not located on a space object and which is used to receive radio emissions from a space object or from an earth station via a space object.
In the case of earth stations for a Broadcasting Satellite Service, the majority will be receive only. Standard earth stations used for Fixed and Mobile Satellite Services generally transmit and receive.
Getting the right licence to operate an earth station depends on how it is to be used within a satellite network.
Earth stations may be fixed at one location or may be transportable and even portable (in the case of hand held satellite telephones) and able to operate anywhere in Australia. They may be used to transmit signals to space or may be receive only when used for services such as pay TV.
In some cases, a radiocommunications licence may be issued to an earth station specifically to authorise transmissions (an earth licence) or reception of transmissions (an earth receive licence). In many cases, operation of an earth station can be authorised by a class licence issued by the ACMA - the Radiocommunications (Communication with Space Object) Class Licence 1998 (the Class Licence).
Transmissions from and reception at earth stations must be licensed.
Operation of a licensed earth station in Australia does not normally need international coordination through the International Telecommunication Union but it may require domestic coordination with other radiocommunications services licensed by the ACMA, depending on the frequency ranges used.
To operate an earth station in Australia, you can use either of two licensing options:
If the number of earth stations in the satellite network is small, the most efficient way to authorise their operation is via the ground segment (that is, directly licence the earth stations) using apparatus licences (either an earth licence or an earth receive licence). Annual fees are payable for the issue and renewal of apparatus licences.
If the number of earth stations in the satellite network is large, the most efficient way to authorise their operation is via the space segment (that is, directly licence the space stations in the network).
Operation of earth stations communicating with licensed space stations is authorised by the Class Licence. This licence specifies broad frequency bands within which space and space receive licences can be issued and only authorises earth stations operating within these bands.
You do not need to apply to the ACMA to operate a device in accordance with the Class Licence and fees are not payable. However, licence fees are payable to authorise the operation of space stations.