- Class licences
- Low interference potential devices
- Conditions of operation
- Further information
This policy information paper provides information about the Radiocommunications Class Licence (Low Interference Potential Devices) 2000 (the LIPD class licence).
Class licences authorise users to operate certain radiocommunications devices, such as low interference potential devices, provided that the device is operated in accordance with the conditions of the class licence. Radiocommunications devices authorised under class licences are typically low power transmitters providing short-range communications that do not require individual frequency coordination for interference management purposes.
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 of Australia Gazette. The LIPD class licence came into effect on 5 July 2000.
From 1 January 2005, class licences generally commence on the day after they are registered under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.
The LIPD class licence authorises users to operate a wide range of low power radiocommunications devices in various segments of the radiofrequency spectrum. The class licence sets out the conditions under which many types of short-range devices may operate. These conditions always cover frequency bands of operation and radiated power limits. Other conditions are applied as necessary.
These lower power transmitters for short range communications do not require individual frequency coordination for interference management purposes. Examples of equipment covered by the LIPD class licence include garage door openers, home detention monitoring equipment, spread spectrum devices (see below) and personal alarms.
Other low power radiocommunications devices, such as radio controlled models, are authorised under the Radiocommunications (Radio-controlled Models) Class Licence 2002.
Spread spectrum devices employ direct sequence or frequency hopping spread spectrum modulation techniques, or both, to transmit information. Short-range spread spectrum devices are used in applications such as barcode readers, point-of-sale networks, radio local area networks (RLANs) and wireless private automatic branch exchanges (PABXs).
On 18 August 2005, the LIPD class licence was varied to authorise users to operate frequency hopping spread spectrum devices. Operation of these devices was previously authorised by the Radiocommunications (Spread Spectrum Devices) Class Licence 2002 (the Spread Spectrum class licence). As a consequence of the variation, the Spread Spectrum class licence was made redundant and was revoked.
The LIPD class licence was varied on 20 July 2006 to authorise ultra-wideband short-range radar (UWB SRR).
UWB SRR uses very wide bandwidth, low radiated power radar transceivers mounted behind vehicle bumpers together with signal processing equipment inside the vehicle to allow the detection, location and tracking of movement of persons or objects up to 30m from the vehicle. UWB SRR is capable of precise object detection that can enable features such as:
- near collision avoidance (including Blind Spot Detection and Parking Assistance);
- improved airbag activation; and
- suspension systems that are more responsive to road conditions.
Initially, these features will be limited to luxury vehicle models but they are expected to eventually become standard in most vehicles.
For the protection of radio astronomy service stations operating in the 22.21-22.5 and 23.6-24 GHz bands, exclusion zones have been established:
- within 10kms of Parkes Observatory near Parkes, NSW;
- within 10km or Paul Wild Observatory near Narrabri, NSW;
- within 3 km of the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex in the ACT; and
- within 10 kms of the Radio Astronomy Park in WA.
Infrared Devices transmit infrared energy for radiocommunications purposes over short ranges. The two common sources of this energy are infrared lasers and infrared light emitting diodes (LEDs).
Infrared lasers in radiocommunications applications are used, for example, in distance and speed measurement systems, and in laser link communications systems. Maximum output powers typically vary between 100 microwatts and 125 milliwatts, depending on the application. Interference is only likely to occur if two or more devices are operated over the exact same path.
Infrared LEDs are typically used for communications purposes in very short range remote control or sensing applications. Maximum output power is typically less than 30 milliwatts. Interference is only likely to occur if the devices are operated in the same location.
The LIPD class lience was varied on 20 December 2007 to authorise users to operate infrared devices. Operation of these devices was previously authorised by the Radiocommunications (Infrared Devices) Class Licence 2002 (the Infrared Devices class licence). As a consequence of the variation, the Infrared Devices class licence was revoked.
The LIPD class licence provides for the operation of infrared devices in the band 187.5 to 420 terahertz, with a maximum output power of 125 milliwatts.
It should be noted that radiations from laser devices are a potential health hazard.
Australia/New Zealand Standard AS/NSZ 2211.1:1997 details the requirements necessary to protect persons from radiations from these devices.
Other non-related items included as part of the 20 December variation were:
- data communications transmitters used indoors in the 57-66 GHz band. This addition supports the operation of wireless personal area networks (WPANs) in indoor environments.
- a new 'all transmitter' class in the 5.725 to 5.875 GHz band. The addition enables the operation of short range low power transmitters using analogue modulation techniques in the 5.8 GHz industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) band.
Video sender transmitters are used to transmit signals from video appliances such as video cassette recorders to nearby television receivers, by means of radio transmissions.
The LIPD Class Licence was varied on 18 December 2008 to authorise users to operate video sender transmitters. Operation of these transmitters was previously authorised by the Radiocommunications Miscellaneous Devices Class Licence 1999 (the Miscellaneous Devices class licence). As a consequence of the variation, the Miscellaneous Devices class licence was revoked.
Digital audio broadcasting (DAB) repeaters are transmitters in the 174-230 MHz band that have a maximum equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) of 10 uW. They ensure coverage that might not otherwise be available in heavily shielded rooms such as shopping centres, where DAB receivers are likely to be sold. The use of DAB repeaters is necessary in part because of restrictions on DAB power levels in some areas, in order to protect analog television services.
The LIPD class licence was varied on 25 June 2009 to authorise the operation of DAB in-store repeaters, amongst other things.
A device operating under the LIPD class licence does so on an uncoordinated basis. It operates in spectrum that is used by other devices; that is, it shares the spectrum with other devices. The potential for interference between devices is managed by placing appropriate limits on the operating parameters of the devices (such as the type of device, radiated power levels, and areas and frequencies of operation).
Although in some circumstances LIPDs can be used for radio applications with commercial or safety-of-life implications, users of such applications are encouraged to pay particular regard to the suitability of operating under this class licence for their radiocommunications needs.
Should interference occur, the onus is on the user of a LIPD to take measures to resolve that interference, for example by retuning or ceasing to operate the device. Some LIPDs are designed to have the capacity to be retuned in order to assist the user in avoiding local interference.
Users of LIPDs in the Mid West region of Western Australia should note that the LIPD class licence imposes conditions to protect the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory. Users planning to operate LIPDs within 70 km of the observatory are advised to contact the CSIRO via email to email@example.com to ensure they do not cause interference to radioastronomy observations.
LIPDs 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 (e.g. microwave ovens). The ISM bands are:
- 13553-13567 kHz
- 26957-27283 kHz
- 40.66-40.70 MHz
- 918-926 MHz
- 2400-2500 MHz
- 5725-5875 MHz
- 24-24.25 GHz
Devices manufactured, imported, or modified after 26 September 2001, and operating under the LIPD 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).
Over recent years concerns have been raised about the long-term health consequences of the use of radiocommunications transmitters. The Radiocommunications (Electromagnetic Radiation - Human Exposure) Standard 2001, which limits human exposure to electromagnetic radiation from radiocommunications transmitters, came into effect on 1 January 1999. From 22 November 2000, cellular mobile telecommunications handsets and cordless telephones and cradles that are capable of operating in the frequency range 800 MHz to 2.5 GHz, and operate under the LIPD class licence, must comply with that standard.
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 the LIPD class licence is breached (for example, operating on a frequency not mentioned in the class licence) the operator is no longer authorised to operate under the LIPD class licence. In this instance, the operator could be liable for prosecution. Manufacturers and suppliers of radiocommunications products which come within the scope of the LIPD class licence are therefore encouraged to have regard to the above information in forming advice for their customers, and also must have regard to the Act and any radiocommunications standards applicable to the device.
The LIPD class licence authorises any person to operate a device that uses a frequency:
- on or within a range of frequencies, mentioned in column 3 of Schedule 1 of the LIPD class licence;
- at a radiated power that does not exceed the maximum EIRP mentioned in column 4 of Schedule 1 of the LIPD class licence;
- within any of the limitations mentioned in column 5 of Schedule 1 of the LIPD class licence.