The operation of short-range spread spectrum and digital modulation devices is authorised under the Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) Class Licence 2000 (the LIPD 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 requirements.
Class licences do not have to be applied for, and no licence fees are payable. They are issued by the ACMA by a notice published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.
Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) Class Licence
Amongst other things, the LIPD Class Licence covers equipment categories that use spread spectrum modulation and digital modulation techniques.
Spread spectrum devices employ direct sequence spread spectrum modulation techniques, frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) modulation techniques, or both, to transmit information.
Digital modulation devices may employ modulation techniques such as orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) or direct sequence spread spectrum but do not include FHSS modulation techniques.
The class licence supports the use of short-range spread spectrum and digital modulation devices used in applications such as bar code readers, point-of-sale networks, cordless phones, wireless local area networks (WLANs)-also known as radio LANs or RLANs-and wireless private automatic branch exchanges (PABXs).
Compliance with standards
To operate under the class licence a spread spectrum device must meet the requirements of the Radiocommunications (Short Range Devices) Standard 2004 (the SRD standard).
The SRD standard provides multiple paths to compliance for spread spectrum equipment. These are:
- meet the requirements prescribed directly in the SRD standard; or
- meet the requirements prescribed by reference in the SRD standard. These are:
- meet the provisions of section 15.247 of the Rules and Regulations of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), except for the frequency bands of operation specified in that section and the provisions of 15.247 (b), which relate to transmitter power and antenna gain which for Australia are varied as indicated in the table below; or
- meet the requirements of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute Standard
ETSI EN 300 328.
Frequency bands and power limits for spread spectrum and digital modulation devices
|Device||Frequency band (MHz)||Maximum equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP)|
|Frequency hopping transmitters and digital modulation transmitters||915 to 928||1 watt (frequency hopping transmitters must use a minimum of 20 hopping frequencies)|
|Frequency hopping transmitters||2400 to 2483.5||500 milliwatts (a minimum of 15 hopping frequencies must be used)|
|Frequency hopping transmitters and digital modulation transmitters||2400 to 2483.5||4 watts (frequency hopping transmitters must use a minimum of 75 hopping frequencies)|
|Frequency hopping transmitters and digital modulation transmitters||5725 to 5850||4 watts (frequency hopping transmitters must use a minimum of 75 hopping frequencies)|
Spread spectrum and digital modulation devices operating under the class licence:
- must not cause interference to other radiocommunications services and will not be afforded protection from interference caused by other radiocommunications services; and
- when operating in bands designated for industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) applications will not be afforded protection from interference which may be caused by ISM applications, (such as microwave ovens). The ISM bands are 13 553-13 567 kHz, 26 957-27283 kHz, 40.66-40.70 MHz, 918-926 MHz, 2400-2500 MHz, 5725-5875 MHz, and 24-24.25 GHz.
Breaches of licence conditions
Users of spread spectrum devices must comply with the conditions in the class licence. Subsection 132(3) of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 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, for example, using higher power than that authorised in the class licence, that operation is no longer authorised under the class licence. In such instances, the operator would be subject to the offence provisions of the Radiocommunications Act.
As well as specific conditions spelt out in the class licence, operation of a spread spectrum or digital modulation device is also subject to the provisions of the Radiocommunications Act.
The Radiocommunications (Short Range Devices) Standard 2004 is available.
For more information about operating wireless LANs, see the following ACMA publications:
- frequently asked questions: Wireless local area network in the 2.4 GHz band-accessing the public telecommunications network and related issues
- fact sheets: Wireless LANs-Licensing requirements and Wireless LANs-exempt and non-commercial networks
The Radiocommunications Act 1992 is on a separate website for federal legislation.
The ACMA has fact sheets on a range of topics.
Please note: this document is intended as a guide only and should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as a substitute for legal advice in individual cases.