- 1Open for comment18 May 2020
- 2Consultation closed13 Jul 2020
Review of radiocommunications prohibitions and exemptions framework
In the Five-year spectrum outlook 2019–23, we said we would review the radiocommunications prohibitions and exemptions framework.
To begin, we would like industry, government and consumer feedback on:
- emerging technologies
- changing policy and operational needs
- the impact of the framework on their activities
Some of the instruments under the framework will be repealed in 2023. It is timely to consider the scope and operation of these instruments. You can find the framework consultation paper in the key documents box above.
We also want to change the current rules to help police in their efforts to ensure public safety, and remove barriers to innovation. We would like to discuss:
- making an exemption determination so police can deal with drone security and safety threats
- amending the ban on GPS jamming devices to allow trials of GPS repeaters in road tunnels
You can find out more on each of these 2 consultations below.
Radiocommunications exemptions for police use of drone jamming devices
In December 2018, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) saw the need to combat illegal drone use. It agreed to support police with counter-drone capabilities. Technologies that interfere with drone signals are known as drone jamming devices. These can breach the Radiocommunications Act 1992.
We propose to exempt Australian police from offences related to drone jamming devices.
On 8 October 2020, the ACMA made the Radiocommunications (Police Forces – Disruption of Unmanned Aircraft) Exemption Determination 2020. It will expire after 2 years.
In submissions to the ACMA, stakeholders agreed about the public safety and national security risks posed by malicious drones. They also accepted the needs of police in using counter-drone devices to respond to threats.
Some stakeholders noted that devices operating under the instrument could affect licensed spectrum services. We believe measures can be taken to manage any adverse effects the devices may have. We felt the risks of not intervening to be unacceptable from a public safety and security point of view.
Some submissions suggested extra accountability measures for those operating under the instrument. We want police forces to keep records of when devices are used, and to be able to request copies of those records. This will allow us to monitor the operation of the instrument, and to check reports of interference against the use of devices.
Trials of RNSS repeater devices in road tunnels
GPS is also known as the radionavigation-satellite service (RNSS). It is an essential part of our lives. But GPS signals don’t work in tunnels, which is a problem for emergency services.
RNSS repeaters can receive and re-transmit GPS signals in areas of poor coverage. However, they are banned by current laws.
We want to change the Radiocommunications (Prohibited Device) (RNSS Jamming Devices) Declaration 2014. This is to allow road operators to trial RNSS repeaters in tunnels. We have provided a draft amendment declaration.
On 11 September 2020, the ACMA made the Radiocommunications (Prohibited Device) (RNSS Jamming Devices) Amendment Declaration 2020 (No. 1). It amends the Radiocommunications (Prohibited Device) (RNSS Jamming Devices) Declaration 2014, which bans devices that jam radionavigation satellite service (RNSS) signals.
In submissions, stakeholders saw the benefits of RNSS repeaters in RNSS-denied environments. They generally supported the amendment declaration.
In addition to road tunnels, stakeholders identified other places that would benefit from improved RNSS services. These included:
- railway tunnels and stations
- transport hubs
- urban canyons
- mining and manufacturing sites.
Some stakeholders had concerns that making the amendment declaration could lead to uncontrolled use of RNSS repeaters. This would pose a risk of interference to telco networks that rely on the timing information transmitted by the RNSS.
We believe these risks can be managed through regulations that require:
- the devices to be licensed
- that they meet operational, technical compliance and labelling standards.
The ACMA wants to allow trials of RNSS repeaters in road tunnels under short-term scientific licensing. This comes with a view to making permanent licensing arrangements for the devices.
Have your say
We invite submissions on any of the matters raised in these papers.