The operation of 27 MHz handphones is authorised under the Radiocommunications (27 MHz Handphone Station) Class Licence 2015 (the 27 MHz Handphone Station Class Licence).
Under a class licence, all users operate in the same spectrum segment on a shared basis and are subject to the same conditions. A class licence governs the frequencies that may be used, commonly prescribes equipment standards, and may specify other technical and operational parameters. Class licences do not have to be applied for and licence fees are not applicable.
27 MHz handphone stations
A 27 MHz handphone station is a low powered radiocommunications transmitter and receiver combination that has been specifically designed to be carried by hand or on a person. 27 MHz handphone units include a built-in antenna (usually about a metre long) and are powered by an internal battery. Handphones are a useful and inexpensive way of talking to another person over short distances.
Handphone stations are typically used by bushwalkers and fire-fighters, or in the conduct of sporting events and other group activities, where communication over distances of less than one kilometre is required.
Conditions of operation
A handphone station may operate on one or more of the frequencies detailed in Schedule 1 of the class licence. Handphone stations operating on frequencies specified in Item 2 of Schedule 1 must not cause interference to Citizen Band (CB) radio stations and will not receive interference protection from CB stations and transmitters operating in the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) frequency band.
Use of frequencies other than those detailed in the class licence must be authorised by a separate apparatus licence.
Transmitter power levels
Handphone equipment must not exceed the maximum output power that is specified in the class licence. The attachment of additional amplifiers to handphone equipment for the purpose of increasing the power output of the transmitter is not permitted. This type of operation is a breach of the class licence conditions.
Interference between handphone users may occur when handphones are used in close proximity on the same frequencies. To minimise the interference, it may be necessary for some operators to change to another handphone frequency.
Interference to nearby television and radio receivers and other electronic equipment may also occur due to the operation of handphones. If operators find that their handphone is causing such interference, advice about resolving the problem is available from the Spectrum Services Section (ACMA).
A technique used to enable the reception of calls from particular handphone stations without having to listen to other users is permitted under the class licence. Selective calling uses the transmission of audio tones that are recognisable to receivers fitted with a compatible decoder.
Compliance with standards
Devices operating under the class licence, must comply with all radiocommunications standards applicable to them. 'Standard' in this context means a standard made under section 162 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act).
Breaches of licence conditions
It is important that handphone users comply with each condition in the 27 MHz Handphone Station Class Licence. Subsection 132(3) of the Act provides that:
'Operation of a radiocommunications device is not authorised by a class licence if it is not in accordance with the conditions of the licence'.
If any condition of licence is breached (for example, operating on a frequency not mentioned in the class licence) the operator is no longer authorised to operate under the class licence. In this instance, the operator would be liable for prosecution.
As well as specific conditions spelt out in the class licence, operation of a handphone station is also subject to the provisions of the Act.
Under class licensing arrangements call signs are not issued to individual users. However, the ACMA recommends that operators use some form of identification when transmitting.