Human exposure to electromagnetic energy (EME) from transmitters is regulated under apparatus and spectrum licensing arrangements. This includes both certain end-user equipment (for example, mobile phones) and network transmitters (for example, mobile phone base stations).
An apparatus licence authorises the operation of radiocommunications devices under specific technical conditions of use, such as frequency, power and geographical area. Spectrum use under apparatus licences is typically site-specific, but there are instances of nomadic Australia-wide use and area-wide systems use.
Apparatus licences are issued by the ACMA under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 and are subject to licence conditions set out in the Act. Under paragraph 107(1)(f) of the Act, the ACMA may determine, by written instrument, additional licence conditions for the particular apparatus licence types. For example, the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015 (the Apparatus LCD) sets out the conditions to which a licence issued under sections 100 or 100B of the Act is subject.
The Apparatus LCD imposes EME exposure requirements on operators of apparatus-licensed transmitters (for example, GSM base stations and handsets, amateur stations and broadcast sites).
In addition, under Part 3 of the Act the ACMA has made two determinations that impose EME exposure requirements on licensees of radiocommunications transmitters:
the Apparatus LCD, which applies to all apparatus licences other than temporary community and commercial broadcasting licences, community broadcasting licences and datacasting licences
the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Temporary Community Broadcasting Licence) Determination 2015, which applies to apparatus licences authorising temporary community broadcasting services.
To bring relevant broadcasting services and spectrum licensees in line with relevant parts of the Apparatus LCD, under various sections of Part 3.3 of the Act (depending on the type of broadcasting service) a special condition is applied to apparatus licences requiring commercial and community broadcasting services to comply with the Apparatus LCD. Finally, under section 71 of the Act, spectrum licences must also comply with the Apparatus LCD.
The EME conditions apply to transmitters that operate under both apparatus and spectrum licences. The Apparatus LCD requires licensees to ensure that the level of emissions from a transmitter under their control does not exceed the reference levels for general public exposure set out by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) in its Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 3kHz to 300 GHz (2002) (the ARPANSA Standard). Licensees of both mobile phone base stations and smart meters operating under spectrum or apparatus licences are subject to these conditions. The ACMA maintains an online register of apparatus licences.
Read more about the apparatus licensing system.
A spectrum licence authorises the operation of a device or devices within a defined spectrum space (geographic area and frequency band), provided the devices deployed in the spectrum space comply with their licence conditions and the technical framework established by the ACMA for the band.
The operation of equipment used under a spectrum licence (including end-user equipment operated via third-party authorisation) is subject to the ARPANSA exposure limits as a condition on the spectrum licence. The core conditions (generally in Schedule 4 of the spectrum licence) make the licence subject to parts 2, 3 and 4 of the Apparatus LCD that contains the EME-related requirements.
The ACMA issues a broadcasting licence to authorise the transmission of television and radio programs to the public (with the exception of broadcast services provided using satellites). A broadcasting licence authorises the operation of transmitters used for broadcasting programs and engineering tests for stations intended to be used to broadcast television or radio programs. There are six licensing options for broadcasting licences. The broadcasting licence type is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2000. The EME conditions apply to transmitters that operate under apparatus licences. Broadcasters should have apparatus licences to cover use of their equipment.
For more information.
Temporary community broadcast licensing
A temporary community broadcasting licence (temporary licence) authorises aspirant groups to provide temporary community broadcasting services. Temporary licences may be allocated for a period of up to 12 months. The Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Temporary Community Broadcasting Licence) Determination 2015 sets conditions applicable to all apparatus licences issued under section 101A of the Act. Licences issued under section 101A authorise temporary community broadcasting stations.
Part 2 of the Determination specifies that a transmitter operated by a licensee is subject to Parts 3 and 4 of the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015.
Under a class licence, all users operate in the same spectrum segment on a shared basis and are subject to the same licence conditions. These conditions prescribe the frequencies that may be used, common equipment standards and any other relevant technical and operational parameters. Class licences are typically used for remote locking devices (for vehicles and garage doors), wireless headsets for mobile phones, remote control for TV, CB radio operation and Wi-Fi.
The use of devices that include low-power transmitters for short-range communications such as garage door openers, wireless microphones and wireless LAN equipment is authorised by the Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) Class Licence 2015 (the LIPD class licence). Devices covered by the LIPD class licence, such as cordless telephones and telephone cradles that are capable of operating in the frequency range 800 MHz to 2.5 GHz, must also comply with the Radiocommunications (Compliance Labelling - Electromagnetic Radiation) Notice 2014 (the EME Labelling Notice) and the Radiocommunications (Electromagnetic Radiation-Human Exposure) Standard 2014 (the Human Exposure Standard).
Read more about the LIPD class licence.
Read more about the Radiocommunications (Cellular Mobile Telecommunications Devices) Class Licence.
Read more about the Radiocommunications (Cordless Communications Devices) Class License.
Read more about the transmitter installation regulatory arrangements.