Buying online? Will it work here and is it legal? | ACMA


12 July, 2013 12:24 PM


Buying online? Will it work here and is it legal?

By Editor


Shopping online for a cordless phone, headset or baby monitor? It might look cheap and hard to resist, but there’s a couple of questions you need to ask yourself before you go ahead.

Will the telecommunications or radiocommunications device I am buying work in Australia?
Can I legally operate it here?

When you buy a telecommunications or radiocommunications product directly from overseas, it probably won’t meet Australian regulations. Why? Simply because the device is designed for the overseas market it comes from. As a result, it may operate on frequencies used for other purposes in Australia and interfere with other licensed Australian radiocommunications services. 

An Australian supplier—this could be an Australian manufacturer, importer or authorised agent—is required to meet strict requirements for each radiocommunications or telecommunications product before supplying that product to the market here. This ensures that any product operates on the correct frequencies, meets electromagnetic energy (EME) emission limits and will not intentionally interfere with other devices through unwanted EME emissions. 

Digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) devices are good examples.

DECT devices—like cordless telephones, headsets and baby monitors—can be found in nearly every household and business in Australia. Their design is based on an international standard for short-range cordless communications.  They have voice, data and networking applications with ranges of around a few hundred metres.

But some DECT devices imported into Australia use frequency ranges from other regions. And that’s where the problem arises. The licensed DECT frequency range in other countries is not always the same as in Australia. In fact, some overseas DECT devices operate in the frequency ranges used by Australian mobile phone carriers, creating the potential for interference to mobile services and even preventing access to services altogether.  

The ACMA has dealt with numerous cases involving DECT devices that operate in the US and Canadian frequencies (1920–1930 MHz) and found they were interfering with Australian mobile networks.

With over 60 per cent of calls to Triple Zero made from mobiles, the consequences can be serious, particularly in life-threatening or time-critical situations.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that it can be an offence under the Radiocommunications Act 1992, to operate or possess a DECT device that doesn’t comply with Australian regulations. More info about DECT devices and the relevant offences is available on the ACMA website.