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Radcomms licensing and allocation reform

Our approach to changes introduced by the Modernisation Act.

On 17 December 2020, the Radiocommunications Legislation Amendment (Reform and Modernisation) Act 2020 (the Modernisation Act) received Royal Assent, amending the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act) to:

  • add flexibility to the licensing framework, which will allow speedier release of spectrum so that changes in spectrum demand can be met faster
  • provide more certainty about key licence conditions that underpin investment certainty, such as licence duration and licence renewal terms
  • provide a more graduated set of compliance and enforcement powers to enable proportionate responses by the ACMA in addressing non-compliance
  • enable the ACMA to develop equipment rules that will regulate devices across modern supply chains, including recognition of online supply arrangements
  • allow for more external involvement in spectrum management by enabling the ACMA to accredit persons and organisations to make decisions under spectrum management arrangements.

The Modernisation Act is part of the government’s response to the recommendations of the 2015 spectrum review.

The amendments made by the Modernisation Act:

  • add flexibility to the way we manage spectrum
  • provide greater clarity to licensees
  • simplify and streamline spectrum management and planning processes
  • ensure that spectrum management is fit-for purpose in a challenging, dynamic environment.

The provisions of the Modernisation Act are due to come into force on 17 June 2021 to give users of spectrum sufficient time to adjust to the new framework.

We have outlined our role in implementing the new arrangements in an addendum to the Five-year spectrum outlook 2020–24.

Information-gathering powers

Once the Modernisation Act starts on 17 June 2021, the ACMA will also have extra information-gathering powers. These powers are contained in Part 5.5A of the Radiocommunications Legislation Amendment (Reform and Modernisation) Regulations 2021 and are similar to the information gathering powers we have in telecommunications.

The new information-gathering powers will support us to carry out our spectrum management functions, including spectrum planning, interference management, monitoring compliance and education initiatives.

Under Part 5.5, we can ask for information about the supply or operation of radiocommunications devices and compliance or non-compliance with licence conditions. We can also seek information about the operation of a radiocommunications device under a current licence or a licence that may be issued in the future.

Guided by our compliance and enforcement policy, we will use these new powers to seek information and documents that may help us to manage, limit or prevent interference; manage health and safety concerns and plan for future use of spectrum.

Licensing and allocation information paper

We have published an information paper on our approach to implementing the changes to the licensing, planning and allocation arrangements introduced by the Modernisation Act.

In the information paper, we set out the main changes to the Act relevant to licensing and allocation arrangements. These relate to:

  • licence duration
  • renewal statements
  • allocation and re-allocation processes
  • our intended approach to implementation. 

We describe our broader approach to selecting spectrum, apparatus and class licensing for different use scenarios. This includes the matters we consider when assessing each licensing category’s potential suitability.

The paper also discusses how the amendments can provide increased flexibility in selecting apparatus or spectrum licensing for some use cases.

We have published a range of consultations and materials related to the Modernisation Act:

Timeline for new spectrum management arrangements



Release information paper on the ACMA’s approach to radiocommunications licensing and allocation

March 2021 

Consult on the new accreditation rules and transitional accreditation rules, and consequential amendments to the Radiocommunications (Frequency Assignment Certificates) Determination 2014

March 2021 

Consult on consequential amendments required to relevant class licences to amend references to ‘any applicable standards’ to include references to equipment rules

March 2021  

Consult on the new equipment rules

March 2021 

Consult on the ACMA’s approach to the use of the exemptions power under the new section 302 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992

May 2021 

Modernisation Act commences

17 June 2021

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