The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) ensures that all Australian space systems operate under the requirements of Australian legislation. Read on for details of the relevant legislation and regulations.
Legislation relevant to space systems
The legislation that have a bearing on the operation of satellite networks in Australia are:
Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005 - establishes the ACMA as an independent statutory authority, and specifies its responsibilities, functions, powers and the terms under which it is obliged to operate.
Radiocommunications Act 1992 - provides the ACMA with powers to regulate the use of Australian spectrum for space systems or satellite networks and stipulates operating any radiocommunications device within Australia must be authorised by an appropriate radiocommunications licence.
Telecommunications Act 1997 - requires satellite networks providing telecommunications services between places in Australia to obtain a carrier licence to authorise operation of the network. The Act applies even if the space system providing the service is foreign. Division 2 of Part 3 of the Act sets out the carrier licensing framework.
Space Activities Act 1998 - sets out a regulatory framework for commercial space activities in Australia and specifies the appropriate approvals required to undertake certain space activities, such as operating a space launch facility. The Department of Industry, Science and Resources is responsible for administering this regulatory regime.
Statutory instruments or determinations established by the ACMA
The ACMA has established various determinations to discharge its statutory responsibilities under the Radiocommunications Act 1992. Those that apply to space systems are for determining:
Foreign space objects
Radiocommunications (Foreign Space Objects) Determination 2014 - specifies when a space object can be considered foreign and brings foreign space objects within the scope of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 so that they can be licensed.
Australian space objects
Radiocommunications (Australian Space Objects) Determination 2014 - specifies when a space object can be considered Australian and brings Australian space objects into the scope of the Radiocommunications Act 1992, so that they can be licensed and identified as stations that the ACMA has jurisdiction over in all places at all times.
Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015 - specifies generic licence conditions that are common to all apparatus licences.
Radiocommunications (Communication with Space Object) Class Licence 2015 - authorises the operation of ubiquitous Earth stations communicating with space objects licensed to use Australian spectrum.
Other ACMA policy or planning documents
The main technical documents with which the ACMA operates are the following:
Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan (ARSP) - a statutory technical document, drawn from and current with the ITU Radio Regulations, that provides a basis for managing the radiofrequency spectrum in Australia.
The ARSP broadly broadly the types of radiocommunication services that can be operated within each frequency band, and associated conditions of operation. This is the first planning document to consult when operating a satellite network in Australia, but more detailed planning documents (below) are usually needed to undertake frequency coordination.
Band Plans - provide a detailed description of how a specific frequency band is allocated in Australia. They show, in detail, allocation of the spectrum resource between types of services as well as frequency channelling arrangements.
Frequency Coordination Procedures - codify the frequency/distance relationships that enable frequency assignments to be made and interference to be avoided.
For a full list of documents, policies and plans and information papers see radiofrequency planning.