Spectrum licence conditions | ACMA

Spectrum licence conditions

Every spectrum licence includes core conditions and other statutory conditions that must be followed. This page has information on those conditions and penalties for not following them and links to more detail.

A spectrum licence authorises you, or someone you authorise, to operate radiocommunications devices in a particular frequency band within a particular geographic area. Details of current licences in each of the spectrum licensed bands are available from the spectrum licence search page.

The core conditions for spectrum licences are set out in section 66 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act) and specify:

  1. the parts of the spectrum in which the operation of radiocommunications devices is authorised under the licence

  2. the area of Australia within which the operation of radiocommunications devices is authorised

  3. the maximum permitted level of radio emissions outside these spectrum and area boundaries.

The core conditions define the spectrum space within which the licensee is authorised to operate radiocommunications devices under the licence.

Other statutory licence conditions under the Act include:

  1. payment of charges

  2. use of licensed spectrum by third parties, especially in relation to handsets

  3. registration of transmitters for the purpose of interference management

  4. any other matters that The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) may need to include in the licence

Licence conditions are used to ensure efficient coordination with other devices and protect Australia’s international treaty obligations.

Licence term

Spectrum licences are awarded for periods of up to 15 years, and do not have an automatic right of renewal. At the end of the licence period, licences are usually reallocated following a price-based procedure. This does not prevent a spectrum licence being reissued to a current licence holder.

The ACMA sends expiry reminders to license holders during the last two years of their licence. For example, notices arising from allocations made in 2000 will be issued in 2013.

The ACMA periodically publishes notices in the Commonwealth Gazette about spectrum licences that are due to expire within the next two years. This information can also be obtained from the ACMA website or one of the ACMA's offices. Expressions of interest are invited from members of the public who would like a spectrum licence.

A spectrum licence can be reissued to you without participating in a price-based allocation process where this is in accord with a determination by the Minister, or where the ACMA is satisfied that special circumstances exist that makes it in the public interest for you to continue to hold the licence.

Suspending and cancelling spectrum licences

Under the Act, if you or an authorised third party has:

  1. breached a licence condition or the Act, or

  2. has operated a device in breach of any other Commonwealth, state or territory law whether statutory or unwritten, such as the common law, or

  3. operated the device in the course of contravening such a law

the ACMA may suspend a spectrum licence. The suspension will be set out in a written notice to you detailing reasons, and will cease within 28 days unless proceedings start for an offence against the Act. The ACMA may revoke the suspension at any time. The ACMA may also cancel a spectrum licence.

You can apply to the ACMA for reconsideration of a decision to suspend or cancel a spectrum licence. In the event that licence conditions are breached by you or an authorised third party, other licensees may also undertake civil proceedings against you.

The ACMA can resume spectrum licences by agreement, or by compulsory process subject to payment of just compensation. The ACMA may only compulsorily resume spectrum licences where the Minister has given written approval.

Spectrum licence tax and charges

The ACMA recovers some of the overhead costs of maintaining the spectrum through an annual spectrum licence tax. The taxation arrangements and the method for calculating the contribution of spectrum licence holders to the base amount are contained in the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Tax) Act 1997 and the Radiocommunications (Spectrum Licence Tax) Determination 2000.

Under its enabling legislation, the ACMA may recover its costs. Any services provided by ACMA to spectrum licensees will be charged at the ACMA’s normal charging schedule, which includes GST if applicable. In many instances, the ACMA has set a standard charge for services, such as device registration and registration of trading of spectrum space. Each spectrum licence includes a condition that you will meet your obligations to pay any cost recovery charges levied by the ACMA.


Last updated: 22 November 2017