Radiodetermination future needs | ACMA

Radiodetermination future needs

Five-year Spectrum Outlook 2013-2017, published in September 2013. 

The Five-year spectrum outlook 2013–2017  is available for download as an e-mag, PDF and word document here. The Table of contents and links to individual sections of the report are available here. Radar and radionavigation beacons are the best-known examples of radiodetermination systems. Radiodetermination systems operate under a number of different spectrum service allocations including radiodetermination, radiodetermination satellite, radionavigation, radionavigation satellite, radiolocation and radiolocation satellite services. Current spectrum use Current spectrum usage by the radiodetermination service occurs across the radiofrequency spectrum. There are, however, only a relatively small number of systems that currently make use of the frequency bands below 300 MHz. The most notable of these are non-directional beacons (NDBs) in the low frequency (LF) and medium frequency (MF) bands and the instrument landing system (ILS) and VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) system in the very high frequency (VHF) band, all of which are used for civil air navigation. The greater number of systems can be found spread across the ultra high frequency (UHF) and microwave frequency bands with most being radar systems. There are relatively few licensees in this service with the most significant being the Department of Defence, Airservices Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). About half of all the bands with radionavigation and radiolocation allocations in the spectrum plan are designated principally for defence purposes, primarily for military radar for surveillance and tracking of both aircraft and ships. The main non-Defence uses of spectrum for the radiodetermination service are listed in Table 5.2. Table 5.2 Main uses of spectrum for the radiodetermination service

Frequency band


328.6–335.4 MHz

ILS (Airservices Australia)

400.15–403 MHz

Weather monitoring using radiosondes—meteorological sensors on weather balloons (the BoM)

420–430 MHz

Vehicular tracking and monitoring (QuikTrak)

915–928 MHz

Automatic identification systems (Australian Rail Track Corporation—ARTC, RailCorp NSW and Pacific National)

960–1215 MHz

Distance measuring equipment, secondary surveillance radar (SSR), airborne collision avoidance system, ADS-B for air traffic control purposes and landing approach guidance (Airservices Australia)

1164–1350 MHz and 1559–1610 MHz

Allocations to the radionavigation satellite service (RNSS)—currently used by global navigational satellite systems (GNSS) such as the USA’s Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian Federation’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS)

1270–1295 MHz

Wind profiler radar

2700–2900 MHz

Primary surveillance radar—PSR (Airservices Australia)
S-band weather radars (the BoM)[i]

2900–3100 MHz

Maritime radar beacons (AMSA) and associated shipborne S-band radars

5010–5030 MHz

RNSS allocation (Galileo)

5600–5650 MHz

C-band weather radars (the BoM)[ii]

9000–9500 MHz

Maritime radar beacons (AMSA), harbour surveillance radar, SARTs, airport surface movement radar and airborne weather radars

9500–9800 MHz

Slope stability radar GroundProbe

22–26.5 GHz

UWB short range vehicle radar

24.05–24.25 GHz & 34.7–35.2 GHz

Traffic speed radar (police)


S-band refers to the microwave frequency range between 2 GHz and 4 GHz.


C-band refers to the microwave frequency range between 4 GHz and 8 GHz. Table 5.2 Main uses of spectrum for the radiodetermination service The number of frequency assignments authorising the uses listed in this table has been steady or only slightly increased over the past decade. The most significant growth in assignments has occurred for automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), C-band weather radars, radar beacons and 35 GHz police traffic speed radars. Growth has also occurred in the use of S- and X-band maritime radar and SARTs, as well as weather radars (5350–5470 MHz and 9300–9500 MHz) and Doppler radars (8750–8850 MHz and 13.25–13.4 GHz).


X-band refers to the microwave frequency range between 8 GHz and 12 GHz.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, Radiocommunications (Aircraft and Aeronautical Mobile Stations) Class Licence 2006, is available from

Defence radiodetermination usage includes:

the use of the HF spectrum for the operation of the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN), which consists of two over-the-horizon radars for air and surface object detection UHF spectrum used for military radar systems like identity friend or foe (IFF—included as part of the JTIDS platform) and tactical air navigation (TACAN) L-band systems include airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) surveillance radar airfield radar and ground-based air defence radars. Defence also uses a variety of X-band radar systems.

2012–2016: Issues affecting spectrum demand Civil air navigation, surveillance and landing systems Developments in navigation and landing systems have been very much towards the adoption and use of GNSS augmentation systems over terrestrial-based navigation systems. However, the use of ILS and distance-measuring equipment are expected to remain important though their role may be reduced. This is to avoid an over-reliance on GPS-based systems that could present a single point of failure which would be unacceptable for the safety-of-life nature of the aeronautical radionavigation service (ARNS). ILS facilities in Australia are currently being upgraded by Airservices Australia and the installation of new sites is also possible. Microwave landing systems (MLS) are not currently used in Australia and, despite its planned phasing out in the US, spectrum in the MLS band (5030–5091 MHz) is not likely to become available in the near future because of increased implementation in Europe and the UK and strong support from ICAO to protect the spectrum. Until recently, Australia’s surveillance infrastructure has depended primarily on PSR and SSR, but this is expected to change with the current deployment of the Australia-wide ADS-B network. ADS-B and GNSS-based navigation, surveillance and landing systems are expected to expand and possibly replace some ground-based surveillance systems within the next decade. The primary objective of the proposed wider application of ADS-B for air traffic surveillance and GNSS-based navigation for aircraft navigation is to enhance safety and increase efficiency of air traffic management. The use of class-licensed airborne radars (radio altimeters) is expected to increase in proportion to the increase in aircraft traffic, which is expected to at least double over the next 15 years. GNSS GNSS ground-based augmentation systems (GBAS) combine received GPS signals and the surveyed positions of ground stations to compute corrections for signal errors (for example, timing and ionospheric delay). This achieves far greater positioning accuracy than stand-alone GPS. Differential GPS (DGPS) is a terrestrial GPS augmentation system currently used in Australia to facilitate coastal marine navigation (at LF and MF), as well as in land surveying and navigation (typically VHF high band and UHF). GBAS has been introduced at Sydney Airport by Airservices Australia for trialling and qualification. The ground-based regional augmentation system (GRAS) may be selected for en-route and regional approach navigation. In both cases, GPS signal corrections are broadcast to aircraft at VHF in the 108–117.975 MHz band. Airservices Australia will consider expanding the GBAS service to other airports in Australia. There are, however, no new radiodetermination spectrum implications from this project. Industry has expressed some concern about the potential for interference to Galileo L-band systems (to be introduced after 2014) operating at 1164–1350 MHz and 1559–1591 MHz from Defence’s JTIDS and airborne warning and control systems (AWACS). AWACS are aircraft that use radar technology and can be used to collect intelligence and coordinate Defence activities. Current co-channel operation between GPS, GLONASS and Defence radar in the L-band suggests that no significant sharing problems will be encountered in the future. However, further use of L-band GNSS frequencies by other services has been identified as a concern by industry. This is because the operations of the current GNSS elements are entirely based on the availability of the 1559–1610 MHz band. Several regulatory and representative bodies including the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) and industry continue to hold the position that the use of this spectrum by GNSS should not be constrained by other services. UHF radar Defence considers the 430–450 MHz band critical to its operations due to its suitability for long-range air surveillance radars and foliage penetration radar. S-band radar The primary users of the 2700–2900 MHz band are Defence, Airservices Australia and the BoM, which operate a number of fixed and mobile radar systems. As shown in Table 5.2, Airservices Australia operates PSR and the BoM operates part of its S-band ‘Weather Watch’ system and wind-finding radars in the band. Existing radar system operators in this band have identified a number of assignment coordination difficulties. These difficulties have been resolved by discussions between operators, however in the future it may be necessary to develop more formal coordination requirements. Proposed new Defence radar systems, such as advanced phased array 3D radars for air and missile defence systems (particularly aboard naval vessels), are currently under development. These technologies are designed for the 2900–3400 MHz band and are likely to increase demand for spectrum. C-band weather radars and RLANs C-band weather radars are widely deployed and are critical to the BoM’s operations. The BoM has indicated that it may have a future spectrum requirement, depending on the extent to which it introduces rural area weather radar coverage. The BoM has also expressed concern about the introduction of class-licensed radio local area networks (RLANs) in the 5600–5650 MHz band. The frequency range 5600–5650 MHz, used by C-band weather radars in Australia, is currently excluded from Australian class licensing arrangements for 5 GHz RLANs. Sharing arrangements for the compatible operation of RLANs and weather radars in this band, and the wider 5470–5725 MHz frequency range, have been defined in ITU Recommendation ITU-R M.1652. RLANs and C-band weather radars currently operate in this shared spectrum in Canada, the US and Europe. The ACMA will continue to monitor changes in standards for RLANs to protect weather radar systems operating in this band. Airport surface detection equipment The use of advanced surface movement guidance and control systems (A-SMGCS) utilising surface movement radar commenced in Australia in 2008 operating in the 9.0–9.2 GHz band and is currently in use at several major airports. Airport surface detection equipment (ASDE) performs a very similar role to A-SMGCS, providing surface movement tracking and control of aircraft and vehicles. ASDE systems are currently deployed in smaller overseas airports, where they use the 9.0–9.2 GHz band.4 ASDE-X is used in the 9.0–9.2 GHz band, and utilises two to four frequencies. ASDE109 is used in a growing number of overseas airports in the 15.7–16.6 GHz radiolocation band.5 ASDE-3 is used in the 15.7–16.2 GHz band, and has a 16-frequency hopset, with two assignable hopping patterns. For this reason, a potential increase in spectrum demand has been identified for ASDE in the 15.7–16.6 GHz frequency range. While the deployment of ASDE is not currently planned for Australia, any future introduction of this equipment would need to be made in consultation with Defence because spectrum in this range is designated to be used principally for defence purposes.6 As per footnote AUS1 of the Spectrum Plan. Automotive radar systems The operation of two different types of automotive radar systems are currently authorised by the Radiocommunications (Low Interference Potential Devices) Class Licence 2000 (LIPD class licence) in the 22–26.5 GHz (24 GHz band) and 76‑77 GHz frequency ranges.7 Available at

. The 24 GHz short-range radar (SRR) technology is used for low-power collision avoidance applications (at the front, back and sides of the vehicle), while the 76–77 GHz long-range radar technology is used in longer-range intelligent cruise control applications (observing traffic on the road ahead of the vehicle). The use of automotive radar systems is expected to increase in the future, as these systems move from limited use in luxury cars to becoming a common safety system in many vehicles. It is expected that new collision-avoidance radars operating in the 77–81 GHz band (79 GHz band) will eventually replace those in the 24 GHz band. The European Commission (EC) decided that 24 GHz ultra wideband (UWB) SRRs were only a temporary solution for anti-collision automotive radar and that these systems would be installed only until June 2013, after which new systems would be limited to other bands. Europe is exploring the feasibility of using other frequency bands as the 79 GHz radars are considered to be expensive. The likely future proliferation of automotive radar is of concern to operators in the radioastronomy services (RAS) that also operate in the 24 GHz, 76–77 GHz and 79 GHz bands. However, careful planning to provide adequate protection through separation distances and terrain shielding can minimise the risk of interference. Members of the scientific community have also expressed concerns about the risk of harmful interference to the Earth exploration-satellite service (EESS). Compatibility analyses performed by the ACMA show that for UWB SRRs to cause harmful interference to EESS passive sensors operating in the 23.6–24 GHz band, a significantly large number of vehicles would have to be equipped with SRR within the coverage area of the sensors.8 Australian Communications and Media Authority, Ultra-wideband short-range radars for automotive applications, Radiofrequency Planning Branch, Australian Communications and Media Authority, Canberra, 2005,

. Such vehicle densities are unlikely to occur in Australia and would require substantial growth in the use of 24 GHz SRRs. The ACMA’s proposed approaches Civil air navigation, surveillance and landing systems Airservices Australia has indicated that additional spectrum requirements for aeronautical radionavigation are unlikely to arise within 2012–2016. Nevertheless the ACMA will continue to liaise with Airservices Australia and monitor developments in spectrum requirements for navigation, surveillance and landing systems. GNSS International GNSS systems operate on frequencies allocated by the ITU and the introduction of new GNSS constellations, satellites and signals generally has little impact on the ACMA’s spectrum management activities. Despite this, the ACMA monitors international policy and technological developments and will continue to do so. The ACMA is aware of concerns that JTIDS and AWACS may cause interference to Galileo L-band systems. The ACMA is also aware of technical specifications associated with Galileo and is working to facilitate communications between Defence and the EC to resolve potential interference issues. The ACMA supports and encourages industry involvement in services associated with GNSS by facilitating access to spectrum for GNSS, including the proposed introduction of Galileo and the QZSS. The ACMA also assists in matters related to GNSS through its involvement with the Galileo Inter-Departmental Committee and the Australian Government Space Forum. S-band radar The ACMA will work with stakeholders to establish spectrum-sharing agreements. The ACMA will also investigate the need to develop further spectrum planning guidance on future use of the band by radar systems. C-band weather radars and RLANs The ACMA will monitor the outcomes of sharing between weather radars and RLANs in the 5470–5725 MHz band overseas. The ACMA believes that sharing is possible, based on international arrangements set out in the Recommendations and Annex of ITU-R M.1652. The ACMA will proceed carefully with any implementation of RLANs sharing the 5600–5650 MHz and will aim to align developments with the finalisation of the relevant ETSI standard. ASDE The ACMA will continue to monitor ASDE developments and its possible future introduction in Australia. Automotive radar systems The ACMA believes that the density of operational UWB SRRs required to cause harmful interference to satellites of the EESS will not be realised given that European cars which constitute a significant proportion of the automobile market, (especially among luxury cars with the most advanced features), are likely to phase out the use of 24 GHz UWB SRRs. The ACMA will monitor developments in existing automotive radar systems, through consultation with peak groups such as the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries and liaise with potentially affected users. WRC-12 radiolocation allocations The ACMA will continue to facilitate the use of HF surface wave radars through temporary arrangements. The development of permanent arrangements is dependent on WRC-12 outcomes. The ACMA will monitor demand and analyse outcomes from other WRC-12 agenda items for VHF space detection applications, the 15.4–15.7 GHz radiolocation allocation and any future allocations in support of UAS operations. WRC Agenda items WRC-12 The following WRC-12 agenda items were relevant to the radiodetermination services:

Agenda item 1.3—unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Agenda item 1.14—new applications in the radiolocation service and review allocations or regulatory provisions for implementation of the radiolocation service in the range 30–300 MHz. Agenda item 1.15—possible allocations in the range 3–50 MHz to the radiolocation service for oceanographic radar applications. Agenda item 1.18—extending the existing primary and secondary radiodetermination-satellite service (space-to-Earth) allocations in the band 2 483.5–2 500 MHz.

You can view a

synopsis of WRC-12 outcomes

. WRC-15 The following WRC-15 Agenda items are relevant to the radiodetermination service: Agenda item 1.18—to consider a primary allocation to the radiolocation service for automotive applications in the 77.5–78.0 GHz frequency band in accordance with Resolution 654 [COM6/23] (WRC-12). Beyond 2016 Civil air navigation, surveillance and landing systems As mentioned earlier, aeronautical navigation and landing systems are evolving towards GNSS-based systems. For this reason, the use of some current systems is planned to decline within the next five years following the implementation of GPS-based navigation and landing systems on aircraft. As early as 2010, there were plans in the US to phase-down non-directional beacon (NDB), VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) and microwave landing system (MLS) to a minimum operational network, based on projected satellite navigation program milestones.9 US Department of Defence, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, 2005 Federal Radionavigation Plan,

. No spectrum is expected to become available from such activity within the near future. Airborne weather radars are under development in the 15.4–16.6 GHz band. They are currently very lightly utilised, but there is interest in their use for defence purposes. Wind profiler radar Wind profiler radars that operate in the 448–450 MHz range are currently not used in Australia. However, the BoM does use wind profiler radars that operate in other bands and expects its use of these radars to increase generally. The BoM may commence using 450 MHz wind profiler radars and, consequently, anticipates an increase in the need for 450 MHz spectrum allocations at some locations, currently limited to 448–450 MHz. The ACMA will liaise with the BoM on its future requirements for in this area. GNSS The passive reception of GPS is expected to increase, but this should not impact on spectrum demand in the next 10 years. The ACMA will instead focus on adjacent band issues to ensure the functionality of GPS. Spectrum demand will most likely increase for terrestrial augmentation systems. The use of VHF spectrum for the broadcast of GPS corrections indicates that other future systems may also require additional spectrum allocations, but at this time, there is insufficient information to quantify such demand. It is likely that spectrum requirements for GNSS (in particular GPS) augmentation systems will be quantifiable after terrestrial tracking applications are more widely introduced in Australia. The ACMA will continue to observe the deployment of GNSS augmentation systems over the next five years. Shipborne maritime radar The use of S- and X-band maritime radars is expected to increase well into the future. Spectrum demand for these radars may therefore increase, but a spectrum shortage is not anticipated in the near future. The ACMA will continue to monitor the deployment of S- and X-band maritime radars and reassess whether additional spectrum may be needed if there are indications of growing spectrum usage. Maritime radar beacons (racons) are widely used. Their increasing use over the past decade should continue in the future. However, consultation with AMSA has revealed concerns that new technology non-magnetron radar may not be compatible with existing racons. In addition, there is the possibility that they will not be replaceable at the end of their lifetimes and alternative technologies with different spectrum requirements may be introduced after 10 years. The ACMA will monitor the developments of non-magnetron radars and consult with AMSA on the continuation of S- and X-band racons after 2013. Automatic rail identification systems The rapidly increasing general use of RFID systems worldwide suggests that the use of rail identification systems will also increase. Despite the limited deployment and growth of this application to rail networks in Australia, increased use for suburban rail transport routes may be a possibility. However, international developments indicate that tracking systems for terrestrial transport may instead use GNSS augmentation systems. The ACMA will continue to monitor the use of the 915–928 MHz band for rail identification systems, but at this stage does not anticipate additional spectrum requirements for this purpose. Radiodetermination in support of UAS Agenda item 1.3 of WRC-12 identified spectrum allocations for communications in support of UAS operations in the 5030–5091 MHz. In addition to the mobile communications mentioned in that section, the safe operation of a UAS will require technologies enabling the detection and tracking of other aircraft, terrain and obstacles, for which spectrum requirements also need to be considered. WRC-15 Agenda item 1.5 was developed to consider satellite allocations for UAS. You can view a

synopsis of WRC-12 outcomes

. Endnotes 1 S-band refers to the microwave frequency range between 2 GHz and 4 GHz. 2 C-band refers to the microwave frequency range between 4 GHz and 8 GHz. 3 X-band refers to the microwave frequency range between 8 GHz and 12 GHz. The Australian Communications and Media Authority, Radiocommunications (Aircraft and Aeronautical Mobile Stations) Class Licence 2006, is available from

. 4 ASDE-X is used in the 9.0–9.2 GHz band, and utilises two to four frequencies. 5 ASDE-3 is used in the 15.7–16.2 GHz band, and has a 16-frequency hopset, with two assignable hopping patterns. 6 As per footnote AUS1 of the Spectrum Plan. 7 Available at

. 8 Australian Communications and Media Authority, Ultra-wideband short-range radars for automotive applications, Radiofrequency Planning Branch, Australian Communications and Media Authority, Canberra, 2005,

9 US Department of Defence, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, 2005 Federal Radionavigation

Last updated: 12 May 2016