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Review of non-assigned amateur and outpost regulatory arrangements – consultation 01/2021

We have reviewed the regulatory arrangements for non-assigned amateur and outpost stations. We  are now consulting on options to optimise those arrangements.

Status
Submissions now public
Consultation number
IFC 01/2021
Days remaining 0 of 59 days
Closed
  • 1

    Open for comment

    03 Feb 2021
  • 2

    Consultation closed

    02 Apr 2021
  • 3

    Submissions published

    23 Nov 2021
  • 4

    Outcome No.1 published

    26 Nov 2021
  • 5

    Outcome No.2 published

    20 Apr 2022

Key documents

Outcome No.2 (20 April 2022)

On 7 April 2022, we made the Radiocommunications (Outpost Stations) Class Licence 2022. No changes were made to the instrument following consultation. The class licence is available on the Federal Register of Legislation.

The class licence is set to commence on 31 May 2022. From this date, all current and future outpost station users will be able to operate under the class licence as long as they meet the licence conditions. This applies even if they hold a non-assigned apparatus licence.

Base stations operated by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) will not be authorised under the class licence.

Under the class licence, outpost station users will not hold individual licences and will not need to pay licence application and renewal fees. The conditions in the class licence are the same as individual licences.

Operators will no longer be given a call sign and will have the flexibility to use any form of station identification. This may include:

  • the operator’s name
  • SelCall number
  • vehicle registration number
  • physical location
  • a callsign issued previously with an individual licence.

The Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Outpost Licence) Determination 2015 (outpost LCD) will expire on 1 October 2025. Non-assigned outpost licensees may surrender their licences before this time. Licensees may be eligible for a refund upon surrender of their licence.

Because the minimum amount that can be refunded is $30, only licensees with at least 267 days left on their licence, from the date the ACMA accepts the surrender, will be eligible for a refund. You can find more information on our website. Licensees may also continue to operate under their apparatus licence until the outpost LCD expires.

We will continue to issue apparatus licences for Royal Flying Doctor Station outpost stations. Licence conditions set out in the outpost LCD that are specific to RFDS outpost stations will be added to the relevant individual RFDS licence.

We will contact licensees individually to inform them of:

  • their options
  • how we will transition to the class licensing arrangements for non-assigned stations.

Outcome No.1 (26 November 2021)

The ACMA received over 800 submissions (several made in confidence) in response to the amateur consultation paper and one submission in response to the outpost consultation paper.

We thank the many submitters for their contributions. You can view the public submissions at the bottom of this page.

After reviewing the consultation submissions, we have decided to proceed with implementing the proposed class-licensing arrangements for non-assigned amateur and outpost stations.

The transition to class-licensing arrangements will occur over time. We will continue to engage with the amateur and outpost communities and provide regular updates on implementation activities required to support the transition. 

Amateur consultation

Most submitters were opposed to the proposed amateur class-licensing arrangements. This is based on a view that their operational utility will be diluted through the loss of an individual apparatus licence. Their concerns relate to interference protection arrangements, call sign management, removal of amateur licensees from the public register and international reciprocity. 

However, the majority of submitters indicated that they would be willing to support a future class licence if the ACMA made changes that would address the concerns set out in the submission made by the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA). These submissions (over 70% of all submissions) were lodged as pro forma submissions supporting the WIA’s submission.

A summary of the key issues, concerns and recommendations raised during the amateur consultation and the ACMA’s response to each, is set out in the Response to submissions: Review of amateur licensing arrangements paper in the key documents section above.

The ACMA’s response clarifies the practical outcomes of class licensing, including how we will preserve operational utility, maintain current interference protections, and manage interference issues between amateurs. The paper also addresses the key modifications that we intend on making to improve the class licence.

We believe that most of the comments and recommendations proposed by submitters offer practical benefits that will enhance the proposed class-licensing arrangements.  

We will continue to work on incorporating these changes into the amateur class licence and will update the amateur community regularly as we finalise our position on these matters.   

Submitters also made many other comments and suggestions for improvements to the class licence, which are not discussed in the response to submissions paper. We will consider these comments as we develop our proposed class licence.

Outpost consultation

The submitter to the outpost consultation requested that call signs should continue to be used to identify outpost stations. Identification of outpost stations was the key proposed change we sought feedback on, as part of the proposed outpost class-licensing arrangements.

Our preference is to implement the proposed outpost class licence as consulted on, which allows a station or operator to be identified through any reasonable means, rather than just a call sign.

Submissions

The majority of submitters to the amateur consultation lodged one of several templates or ‘pro forma’ documents. Where we received unique submissions, or submissions on behalf of club members, we have published these. We have also provided a sample of each pro forma submission, along with the number of submitters who lodged that pro forma in the submissions folder below.

Previous consultation: The issue

As part of the ACMA’s Five-year spectrum outlook 2020–24, we have reviewed the regulatory arrangements for operating non-assigned amateur and outpost stations.

Our aim was to find the best licensing mechanism to reduce regulatory burden and minimise costs for licensees, while also keeping the current benefits and uses.

We have identified a set of options. We could either:

  • keep the existing apparatus licensing arrangements and conditions
  • simplify the existing licensing arrangements and conditions
  • transition non-assigned stations to class licensing arrangements, while keeping apparatus licensing arrangements for assigned stations.

Our preferred approach is to authorise the operation of non-assigned amateur and outpost stations under a class licence. We have prepared for consultation a draft class licence for each type of station that would be part of our approach.

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