This page provides information about devices that are prohibited by the ACMA
under section 190 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act). The ACMA
has prohibited two kinds of devices: mobile phone jammers (prohibited as 'PMTS
jamming devices') and radio-navigation-satellite service (RNSS) jammers. The
legislative instruments that prohibit these devices are:
- Radiocommunications (Prohibition of PMTS Jamming Devices) Declaration
- Radiocommunications (Prohibited Device)(RNSS Jamming Devices)
Significant penalties apply to the operation or supply of these prohibited
Devices prohibited by the ACMA
Mobile phone jammers
The Radiocommunications (Prohibition of PMTS Jamming Devices) Declaration
2011 (the PMTS Jamming Devices Declaration) prohibits the operation or
supply, or possession for the purpose of operation or supply, of public mobile
telecommunications service (PMTS) jamming devices. A PMTS jamming device is
commonly known as a mobile phone jammer.
Section 4 of the PMTS Jamming Devices Declaration provides that a device is
a PMTS jamming device if it has the following characteristics:
- is designed to have an adverse effect on radiocommunications;
- would be likely substantially to interfere with, disrupt or
disturb radiocommunications; and
- the device operates within one or more frequency bands used for the
supply of a public mobile telecommunications service (whether or not the
device also operates within other frequency bands).
In practice, this provision applies to a device that is designed to generate
interference for the purpose of preventing or substantially disrupting the
reception of radiofrequency transmissions between a base station and a mobile
station (for example, a mobile handset). The PMTS Jamming Devices Declaration
also prohibits devices which primarily operate on another frequency band that
still operate within and affects mobile phone services.
The ACMA considers that the operation of mobile phone jammers has a
substantial and detrimental effect upon mobile phone carriers and users of
mobile phones. The reasons why the ACMA has prohibited mobile phone jammers are
listed in Schedule 1 to the PMTS Jamming Devices Declaration and include:
- mobile phone jammers can be used to block, or otherwise interfere with
radio emissions between a mobile phone and a base station.
- this means that mobile phone jammers can prevent access to mobile
telephone services, which may adversely affect business and individuals.
For example, individuals may be unable to call the emergency call services
or receive messages through the Emergency Alert system. Businesses may also
be adversely affected.
- high powered mobile phone jammers may emit radiation levels that pose a
risk to public safety. The ACMA has a responsibility for setting
electromagnetic radiation standards and is concerned that radiation levels
from some mobile phone jammers may result in exposure levels exceeding the
maximum permitted under the Radiocommunications
(Electromagnetic Radiation - Human Exposure) Standard 2003.
- mobile phone jammers may interfere with other licensed
radiocommunications operating on frequency bands not used for mobile
- mobile phone jammers may be used in connection with criminal and
The PMTS Jamming Devices Declaration does not prohibit devices which
facilitate carriage services on board an aircraft which are authorised under a
PMTS Class C licence. The PMTS Class C apparatus licence authorises the
in-flight operation of any Civil Aviation Safety Authority approved on-board
system and limited terrestrial operation of the on-board system to enable
testing and maintenance within non-spectrum licensed space.
In 1999, the Australian Communications Authority made the
Notification that the Australian Communications Authority prohibits the
operation or supply, or possession for the purpose of operation or supply, of
specified devices (the Mobile Phone Jammer Prohibition) under section 190
of the Act. The Mobile Phone Jammer Prohibition was made to prohibit the
possession, supply and operation of any device designed to interfere with,
disrupt or disturb radiocommunications operating on the 870-960 MHz and 825-845
MHz frequency bands.
Since 1999, technological and social developments have resulted in a
proliferation of devices that consumers now use for the purpose of
communications and the realisation that there are circumstances where the use
of a jamming device may be justified. In 2010, as a consequence of these
developments, the ACMA undertook a review of the regulatory framework for the
control and management of mobile phone jammers, including the Mobile Phone
The review assessed whether the Mobile Phone Jammer Prohibition remained the
most efficient, effective and appropriate regulation for mobile phone jammers.
The review also included consideration of the ACMA's power to exempt defence,
law enforcement and emergency personnel from certain provisions of the Act.
The review found that:
- the original reasons for making the Mobile Phone Jammer Prohibition
- regulating mobile phone jammers under a section 190 declaration
- the Mobile Phone Jammer Prohibition should be retained in some form;
- requests for exemptions under section 27 of the Act should continue to
be considered by the ACMA on a case-by-case basis.
In 2011, the ACMA revoked the Mobile Phone Jammer Prohibition and made the
PMTS Jamming Devices Declaration.
Further background information about the review can be found at:
Radionavigation-satellite service (RNSS)
The Radiocommunications (Prohibited Device)(RNSS Jamming Devices)
Declaration 2004 (the RNSS Jamming Devices Declaration) prohibits the
operation or supply, or possession for the purpose of operation or supply of a
RNSS jamming device.
The RNSS Jamming Devices Declaration describes a RNSS jamming device as a
- is designed to have an adverse effect on the reception by RNSS
receivers of RNSS radiocommunications; and
- would be likely substantially to interfere with, disrupt or disturb the
reception by RNSS receivers of RNSS radiocommunications.
A RNSS receiver is a radiocommunications receiver used for RNSS
The RNSS (also known as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)) is a
system of satellites which together with supporting infrastructure provide
accurate positioning, velocity and timing data. The most well known GNSS system
is the Global Positioning System (GPS).
RNSS jammers transmit signals that interfere with RNSS signalling and
reception. These jammers can affect services over significant distances and can
pose a substantial risk to licensed radiocommunications.
In 2004, the RNSS Jamming Devices Declaration was made for the following
- there appeared to be no legitimate radiocommunications use for the
- the only purpose for their use is to adversely effect, interfere with,
disrupt or disturb the reception of RNSS radiocommunications by RNSS
- the adverse effect on RNSS would inconvenience RNSS users and could
threaten public safety.
The relevance of this instrument is strengthened by the increasing use of
GPS functions on mobile phones, suggesting a growing reliance by the general
public on such technologies.
The provisions on prohibited devices are detailed in Part 4.1, Division 8 of
Subsection 189(1) of the Act provides that a person must not operate or
supply a device that the person knows is a device in respect of which a
declaration is in force under section 190; or have a device that the person
knows, or ought reasonable to know, is such a device in his or her possession
for the purpose of operating or supply the device. This subsection does not
apply if the person has a reasonable excuse.
Subsection 190(1) of the Act provides that the ACMA may, by notice published
in one or more newspapers circulating in the capital city of each state and
territory, declare that operation or supply, or possession for the purpose of
operation or supply, of a specified device is prohibited for the reasons set
out in the notice.
Subsection 190(2) describes the characteristics of a device that may be
Section 191 of the Act requires the ACMA to undertake public consultation in
a specified manner before making a declaration under subsection 190(1) of the
A declaration made under subsection 190(1) of the Act is a legislative
instrument for the purposes of the Legislative
Instruments Act 2003.
Offences and penalties
Under the Act, the offence provisions and accompanying penalties applicable
to prohibited devices may include:
- the operation or supply of a prohibited device, which attracts a
penalty of two years' imprisonment (if the offender is an individual) or
otherwise 1,500 penalty units (currently $165,000) - section 189;
- causing interference likely to prejudice the safe operation of vessels,
aircraft or space object, which attracts a penalty of 5 years' imprisonment
(if the offender is an individual) or otherwise 5,000 penalty units
(currently $550,000) - section 192;
- causing interference in relation to certain radiocommunications (these
include to rescue and emergency call service organisations such as police,
fire, ambulance), which attracts a penalty of 5 years' imprisonment (if the
offender is an individual) or otherwise 5,000 penalty units (currently
$550,000) - section 193;
- causing interference likely to endanger safety of another person or
cause another person to suffer or incur substantial loss or damage, which
attracts a penalty of 5 years' imprisonment (if the offender is an
individual) or otherwise 5,000 penalty units (currently $550,000) - section
- reckless conduct which causes substantial interference with
radiocommunications, or substantial disruption or disturbance of
radiocommunications, which attracts a penalty of 1 year imprisonment -