Licence trading | ACMA

Licence trading

The ACMA permits two types of radiofrequency licences to be traded by existing licence holders:

Apparatus licence trading

Apparatus licences can be traded, but are more often transferred by licence holders based on the provisions of section 131AA of the Radiocommunications Act 1992. They are less frequently traded due to the relatively short maximum 5 year licence period, to the fact that there is no guarantee by the ACMA of their renewal, and also because they are subject to annual licence fees. A trade of an apparatus licence is formalised when both parties sign a completed Application for transfer of apparatus licence form and submit it to the ACMA with payment of the appropriate fee.

A licensee may also authorise a third party in writing to operate a radiocommunications device under their apparatus licence.

Spectrum licence trading

In line with ss85-88 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992, spectrum licences are intended to be traded rather than transferred. They incorporate core conditions that define a spectrum asset or a set of property rights represented by the spectrum licence. Licensees are free to negotiate in the open market with interested persons to buy and sell spectrum space for any legal purpose.

Spectrum licences can be regarded as financial assets due to their defined spectrum space and long licence period, which is 15 years. These licences may be combined or sub-divided to form new licences, although they may not be subdivided smaller than a standard trading unit. Once a commercial agreement is reached on a particular trade, the transaction must be notified to the ACMA. The trade becomes effective only after the new licence details appear in the Radiocommunications Licence Register.

In order to obtain whole or part of a spectrum licence from an existing licence holder:


Identify the licensed spectrum space you want to buy or lease.

Search the Radiocommunications Licence Register on the ACMA website to locate the owner of the licence or licences for that spectrum and the licence conditions that apply to it.


Initiate discussions with the licensee or licensees.

Open discussions with a view to reaching agreement on mutually acceptable terms for sale or lease of the relevant spectrum.


Agree on the terms of sale or lease.

Obtain agreement on the terms of sale or lease at a mutually acceptable price. If you cannot negotiate acceptable terms, consider seeking a third party authorisation from the licensee, whereby they retain legal rights to the spectrum but grant you authority to use for the period and purposes you require subject to you meeting licence conditions.


Complete and sign the ACMA R036 form.

Both parties complete and sign application form R036 and submit it to the ACMA along with a payment of the relevant fee. The trade becomes effective from the date the changes are notified in the Radiocommunications Licence Register, usually within a week of the ACMA receiving the completed form.

Collecting information about spectrum licence trading

Collecting information about the purpose for a licence transfer or trade and the consideration payable (where applicable) will provide the ACMA and, potentially, market participants with greater information about the operation of the market for spectrum. It may also facilitate trading and assist the ACMA in planning and managing the spectrum. As the ACMA did not want to introduce new barriers to trade, it is recommended that price data be given voluntarily. Consideration is being given as to how to publish the price data. The approach to publishing price data will depend on the volume of trades, as confidentiality of traders will be required to be respected.

To submit information about your licence transfer or trade please complete this form.

Last updated: 24 July 2017