Australian & foreign space objects | ACMA

Australian & foreign space objects

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The type of regulation of space services in Australia is determined by whether a satellite or satellite network is Australian or foreign.

The ACMA issues licences for the operation of radiocommunications devices subject to the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act).

The Act allows the ACMA to determine if a space object is Australian or foreign. Foreign space objects can only be regulated to the extent they use Australian spectrum.

Australian satellite networks

Any satellite network or space object that the ACMA registers with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is considered Australian, irrespective of whether it transmits within or outside Australia.

Australian services outside of Australia

If an Australian satellite network provides services outside Australia, the ACMA is still responsible to other Administrations for the operations of that network. The ACMA regulates this by having entered into a Deed of Agreement with, or by applying the "Australian procedures for the coordination and notification of satellite systems" ('manual procedures'), to individual satellite operators.

However, the use of the radiofrequency spectrum for those services cannot be authorised by licences issued by the ACMA. You must contact the relevant foreign administration for more information on its licensing arrangement.

What is a foreign satellite network?

A foreign satellite network is any satellite network that another Administration has filed with the ITU, even if the satellite network is providing services to places in Australia.

The operations of a foreign satellite service will only concern the ACMA if the service uses Australian spectrum to communicate with places in Australia.

Foreign services to places within Australia

The Act allows the ACMA to extend its jurisdiction to foreign satellites on a case-by-case basis. The ACMA can determine foreign satellites to be foreign space objects under the Act.

Companies can be included in the determination after they submit licence applications to or meet with the ACMA to indicate that they intend to provide radiocommunications services to places in Australia. Once included, the ACMA can issue radiocommunications licences that authorise operations on those space objects.

Space object determinations

The ACMA has issued determinations specifying which space objects can be considered foreign or Australian:

Where feeder links are involved, the ACMA normally issues earth (uplink) and earth receive (downlink) licences to authorise the operation of the gateway earth stations in the network.

Where service links are involved, the ACMA normally issues space (downlink) and space receive (uplink) licences to authorise the operation of the satellite transponders in the network.

Last updated: 27 February 2019