Satellite services licences | ACMA

Satellite services licences

To operate a space-based radiocommunications network in Australia, you must have an appropriate licence.

All transmitting and receiving devices, including earth stations and space stations on satellites must be authorised by a licence issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA). If the network is used for telecommunications purpose, then a carrier licence may be needed.

The ACMA supports licensing for a wide variety of space-based communications systems, taking into account:

  1. its configuration

  2. the nature of its use of Australian spectrum.

The commercial preferences of the satellite operator, the service provider or the end user may also affect the nature of the licensing arrangements.

Who needs to get the licence?

Operation of a satellite network may involve many tiers of ownership or service provision, including:

  1. Operators of a satellite

  2. Resellers of satellite capacity

  3. Providers of services from a satellite

  4. Consumers or users of a satellite service

Any of these parties may hold the licences authorising operation of a space-based communications system.

Before you operate a satellite service consider:

  1. Is a licence needed for this particular device?

  2. Does someone already hold a licence for it?

  3. What types of licences are there?

  4. What types of licence do I need?

Who doesn't need to get a licence?

You do not need to apply for a licence if the operation of the network is already authorised (another party already holds the licence).

How do I apply for a licence?

Applications for an apparatus licence are made by completing the appropriate ACMA spectrum form.

How long does it take to get one?

The time it takes to get a licence varies from case to case.

If the application is straightforward, a licence may be issued within the specified periods indicated in our Customer Service Charter.

If an application is particularly complicated or requires amendment of a Determination, it may take six months or longer before a licence can be issued.

Licensing via the ground or space segment

For satellite-based communications systems, both the uplink and the downlink frequencies generally need to be licensed. We offer the choice of licensing the space segment (satellites) or licensing the ground segment (earth stations). The most suitable option depends on the configuration of the satellite, or the satellite system, the nature of its use of Australian spectrum and the commercial preferences of the satellite operator or the service provider. In some cases, if one part of the system is authorised by an apparatus licence, the remainder may be covered by a class licence.

For example:

  1. You can authorise uplink and downlink frequencies using individual apparatus licences for fixed or mobile earth stations communicating with space stations, or other earth stations via a space station. OR

  2. You can authorise uplink and downlink frequencies by individual apparatus licences for the space segment, namely, for space stations. If a space receive licence is used, then the earth stations communicating with the space station could be covered by the Class Licence.

Licensing via the ground segment

This involves the issue of the following individual licences:

As the earth stations use the frequency ranges specified in the licences, their operation does not have to be limited to a particular satellite. This arrangement supports earth stations that communicate with several satellites in the course of normal operations.

Licensing via the space segment

This involves the issue of the following individual licences:

Earth stations communicating with space stations are authorised by the Class Licence, which specifies broad frequency bands within which space and space receive licences can be issued. The Class Licence only authorises earth stations operating within these bands and only with apparatus-licensed space stations.

Space segment licensing is not feasible in all frequency bands.

Currently, space segment licensing arrangements can be supported in the following frequency ranges:

Uplink Frequency Ranges
(earth to space)

Downlink Frequency Ranges
(space to earth)

148 - 150.05 MHz
1610 - 1660.5 MHz
1980 - 1994.5 MHz
1994.5 - 2000 MHz
2000 - 2009 MHz
2009 - 2010 MHz
14.0 - 14.5 GHz or
28.6 - 29.1 GHz

137 - 138 MHz
400.05 - 400.15 MHz
400.15 - 401 MHz
1164 - 1215 MHz
1215 - 1260 MHz
1525 - 1559 MHz
1559 - 1610 MHz
1613.8 - 1626.5 MHz
2170 - 2178.5 MHz
2178.5 - 2184 MHz
2184 - 2193 MHz
2193 - 2200 MHz
2483.5 - 2500 MHz
11.7 - 12.75 GHz or
18.8 - 19.3 GHz

Last updated: 17 December 2012