Radiofrequency spectrum fixed licences | ACMA

Radiofrequency spectrum fixed licences


Introduction

This information paper provides details of the licensing arrangements applicable to the fixed licence type.

What is a fixed licence?

A fixed licence is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 as a licence issued for one or more stations that:

  1. are located principally:
    • at fixed points specified in the transmitter licence that relates to the station; or
    • in an area specified in the licence; and
  2. are operated principally for communications with stations located:
    • at 1 or more other fixed points specified in the licence; or
    • in an area specified in the licence; and
  3. if permitted by the transmitter licence that relates to the station, may communicate with:
    • an aircraft station, but not on an aeronautical frequency; and
    • a ship station but not on a maritime frequency; and
    • a land mobile station but not on a land mobile frequency.

Licensing options

Within the fixed licence type, ten licensing options are available:

  1. Point to Point
  2. Point to Point (5.8 GHz Band)
  3. Point to Point (Self-coordinated) Stations
  4. Point to Multipoint
  5. Point to Multipoint System
  6. Sound Outside Broadcast Station
  7. Television Outside Broadcast
  8. Television Outside Broadcast System
  9. Television Outside Broadcast Network
  10. Temporary Fixed Link

1. Point to point

A point to point station is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 as a station that:

  1. is operated under a fixed licence; and
  2. is operated principally for communication with 1 other fixed station; and
  3. is operated on frequencies specified in the transmitter licence that relates to the station.

The point to point licensing option authorises communications between two fixed stations operating at known locations.

Under the fixed point to point licensing option, each transmitter must be separately licensed. The point to point path is recorded by relating two relevant spectrum accesses to each other. Passive repeaters are licensed in the same manner as active repeaters.

Studio to transmitter links

A studio to transmitter links (STLs) are low capacity1 single frequency services used mainly by broadcast services for studio to transmitter links. STLs are licensed under a fixed licence authorising a point to point station.

An STL is defined in the 900 MHz Band Plan as '...a fixed service which transmits radio broadcasting programme material from a broadcasting studio to a broadcasting transmitter'.

900 MHz studio to transmitter links

A 900 MHz studio to transmitter link station is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2000 as a point to point station that:

  1. is operated only within a frequency range greater than 820 MHz and less than or equal to 960 MHz; and
  2. transmits sound broadcasting program material from a broadcasting studio to a broadcasting transmitter.

Information about 900 MHz studio to transmitter links is provided in the Radiocommunications Assignment and Licensing Instruction (RALI) entitled 'Studio to Transmitter Links and Sound Outside Broadcast Services in the 900 MHz Band' (FX 11).

2. Point to point (5.8 GHz band)

The point to point (5.8 GHz band) licensing option is typically used to authorise fixed links with up to 200 Watts EIRP in regional and remote areas. It may also be used for links from subscriber outstation transmitters to hub station receivers.

A point to point (5.8 GHz band) station is defined in the Radiocommunications(Interpretation) Determination 2015 as a 'point to point station that is operated only within the frequency range greater than 5.725 GHz and less than or equal to 5.825 GHz'.

The point to point (5.8 GHz band) licensing option authorises the operation of a point to point link in the 5.8 GHz band.

Consistent with footnote AUS96 of the Australian Radiofrequency Spectrum Plan (2005 Edition), these licences shall be issued with a "no interference, no protection from interference" condition. However, in the event of interference between stations licensed by this option, normal licence date precedence will apply. Apparatus licensees should be aware that they will not be protected against interference from class licensed operations. Similarly, class licensees should be aware that they must accept the potential for interference from 5.8 GHz band fixed apparatus-licensed services operating under the terms of their licences.

Because the 5.8 GHz band is used by class-licensed services that are not recorded in the ACMA licensing database, it is not practical to undertake formal frequency coordination with class licensed services. However, to assist users wishing to make their own estimates of the coordination situation with respect to other apparatus-licensed fixed service assignments, under this license type, licensees are required to record stations in the ACMA's publicly accessible register of radiocommunications licences.

There are a number of restrictions for this licensing option that are detailed below.

  • To preserve spectrum availability and ensure that the utility of short range devices that users are authorised to operate under class licences in the band is not seriously affected, apparatus licences may only be issued on two 20 MHz bandwidth channels centred on 5.745 and 5.785 GHz.
  • As a further measure to manage potential interference and spectrum availability, transmitters with higher EIRP than permitted by the class licensing arrangements will only be licensed at locations that are outside defined capital city high and medium density areas and that are also 20 km or more from the centre of any regional city of more than 20 000 people (in addition, there are exclusion zones for some Defence areas). These exclusion zones are defined in detail in Embargo 39.
  • For stations that do not fall under the class licensing arrangements, and that are therefore required to be authorised by this apparatus licence option, no more than three point to point stations (typically hub stations) per licensee will be permitted at a site. In addition, a special condition applies to licences that will restrict the 3 dB antenna beamwidth of transmitters to +/- 5.5° in the horizontal plane. These restrictions are intended to prevent de facto high power (that is, up to 200 Watts EIRP) point to multipoint services.
  • Transmitter output power is also limited to a maximum of 1W. It is noted that in order to achieve the maximum permitted EIRP of 200 W, while complying with the 1W transmitter output power; a directional antenna would need a gain of 23 dBi.
  • Transmitters operating under this licence option also have a special condition requiring compliance with the undesirable emission limits contained in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rule 15.407 (b) (4) and with the transmit spectrum mask requirements of section 17.3.9.2 of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Standard 802.11a - 1999.
  • Applications for licences under this option can be made using the Application Form for Fixed apparatus licence(s).

3. Point to point (self-coordinated) stations

The point to point (self-coordinated) stations licensing option is typically used to authorise short haul fixed links in high density areas.

The term 'point to point (self-coordinated) station' is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 as a self-coordinated point to point station that is operated within one of the following frequency ranges:

  1. the frequency range greater than 57.2 GHz and less than or equal to 58.2 GHz;
  2. the frequency range greater than 71 GHz and less than or equal to 76 GHz; and
  3. the frequency range greater than 81 GHz and less than or equal to 86 GHz.

Further information can be found in the RALI entitled Millimetre Wave Point-to-Point (Self-coordinated) Stations ( FX 20).

The fees and taxes applicable to this licence option are set out in the Radiocommunications (Charges) Determination 2007 and the Radiocommunications (Transmitter Licence Tax) Determination 2015.

4. Point to multipoint

A point to multipoint station is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 as a station that:

  • is operated under a fixed licence; and
  • is operated principally for communication with more than 1 other fixed station; and
  • is operated on frequencies specified in the transmitter licence that relates to the station.

A fixed licence authorising a point to multipoint station is used to license radiocommunications systems that:

  • transmit from a point to multiple points; or
  • transmit from multiple points to a point; or
  • comprise a combination of the above.

The point to multipoint licensing option authorises communications between a station located at a known fixed point (the 'base' station) and more than one other station ('remote' stations) within an area specified on the licence.

The point to multipoint licensing option also authorises the operation of 'remote control' stations and 'supplementary base' stations. Remote stations operating in a point to multipoint service arrangement cannot be afforded protection from harmful interference over and above that generally afforded by the point to multipoint assignment model.

The operation of remote control stations is therefore not coordinated individually with the operation of other services and the location of remote stations, and remote control stations, are normally not recorded.

BWA (Broadband Wireless Access)

As part of an initiative to support the deployment of broadband wireless access (BWA) systems in rural and regional areas, the ACMA has made available spectrum in the 1900-1920 and 2010-2025 MHz frequency bands for apparatus licences. Apparatus licences are not available in all areas as the 1900-1920 and 2010-2025 MHz frequency bands are currently subject to spectrum licensing arrangements in metropolitan and some regional areas. The frequency band 2010 - 2025 MHz is also still subject to Embargo 38.

Subject to frequency coordination and other technical requirements of RALI FX19 these services will be issued with fixed (point to multipoint) licences.

'Remote' stations requiring interference protection

If it is necessary for a remote station to be afforded additional protection from harmful interference, then a fixed licence authorising point to point stations must be issued within spectrum allocated for point to point stations. Both the 'remote' station and 'base' station, (the 'base' station being the original point end of the point to multipoint service) must be licensed. Even though the 'base' station and the (protected) 'remote' station are operating within a point to multipoint arrangement, they must be licensed in, and operate within, spectrum allocated for point to point stations.

For each fixed licence authorising a point to point station, two spectrum access records are created. One access record details the location of the 'base' station and the second record details the location of the (protected) 'remote' station.

It should be noted that the fees payable for a fixed licence authorising point to point stations issued to protect remote stations are in addition to the fees payable for the associated point to multipoint service.

Note: Distance education communication services are authorised under the fixed point to multipoint licensing option. The 'point' part of the licence authorises the 'base' station (the service provider) and the 'multipoint' authorises the 'remote' stations (the students). Distance education service providers need to authorise their students to operate under their licences by issuing third party authorisations.

5. Point to multipoint system

A point to multipoint system option provides for multiple point to multipoint stations to operate under one spectrum access. The term 'point to multipoint system' is defined in the Radiocommunications (Transmitter Licence Tax) Determination 2015 as:

'a fixed licence authorising the licensee to operate an unlimited number of point to multipoint stations located anywhere within the areas specified in the licence; and

  1. where a spectrum access exists for each authorisation of the operation of a group of point to multipoint stations that involves a unique combination of:
    • a particular transmit frequency; and
    • a particular bandwidth; and
  2. a particular geographical area (a circle with a radius of a specified number of kilometres from a specified site).'

A spectrum access exists for each authorisation of the operation of a group of point to multipoint stations that involves a unique combination of:

  1. a particular transmit frequency; and
  2. a particular bandwidth; and
  3. a particular geographical area (a circle with a radius of a specified number of kilometres from a specified site).'

A point to multipoint system is a network of point to multipoint stations operating within a specified coverage area. This coverage area is specified as being within a certain distance of a point that is centrally located and is specified on the licence. The point specified on the licence is not necessarily the location of a station, rather it is the nominal centre point of the coverage area and is used to establish the coverage area.

In a point to multipoint system, individual base stations are authorised to communicate with associated remote stations, supplementary base stations and remote control stations in a manner similar to the fixed point to multipoint licensing option.

All stations operating within a point to multipoint system, in an area specified on the licence, must operate on the same frequency or frequency pairs. Operation under a point to multipoint system is authorised on the basis that harmful interference must not be caused to other radiocommunications services and on the understanding that interference protection is not afforded.

6. Sound outside broadcast station

A sound outside broadcast (SOB) station is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 as a station that:

  1. is operated under a fixed licence; and
  2. is established for the purpose of providing a temporary broadcasting coverage of an event.

This licensing option was established to accommodate temporary fixed links that are used to facilitate radio broadcasting coverage of an event remotely located from the broadcasting studio.

Information about the SOB licensing option is provided in the RALI entitled 'Studio to Transmitter Links and Sound Outside Broadcast Services in the 900 MHz Band' (FX 11).

Television outside broadcast services

Three television outside broadcast (TOB) licensing options are available to accommodate temporary fixed links used to facilitate television broadcasting coverage of an event remotely located from the broadcasting studio:

  • TOB - authorises the operation of a transmitter on a particular frequency within an area specified in the licence;
  • TOB system - authorises licensees to operate, on one frequency, an unlimited number of transmitters within the area specified in the licence; and
  • TOB network - authorises licensees to operate, on frequencies specified on their licences, an unlimited number of transmitters anywhere in Australia.

7. Television outside broadcast

A TOB station is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 as a station that:

  1. is operated under a fixed licence and
  2. operates:
    • on a frequency exceeding 1 GHz; and
    • between 2 points for a short period of time; and
  3. is only used for the transmission of television signals and associated signals. 

8.Television outside broadcast system

A TOB system is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 as a system comprising one or more television outside broadcast stations that is operated:

  1. under a fixed licence; and
  2. in an area specified in the fixed licence; and
  3. on a frequency specified in the fixed licence.

9. Television outside broadcast network

A TOB Network is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 as a network comprising 1 or more television outside broadcast stations that is operated:

  • under a fixed licence; and
  • anywhere in Australia; and
  • on more than 1 frequency specified in the fixed licence.

10. Temporary fixed link

A temporary fixed link is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015 as a station:

  1. that is operated under a fixed licence; and
  2. that is operated anywhere in Australia for a period of not more than 14 days; and
  3. that is operated on a frequency or frequencies in the range:
    • 12.75 gigahertz to 13.25 GHz; or
    • 14.5 gigahertz to 15.35 GHz; or
    • 21.2 gigahertz to 23.6 GHz; and
  4. for which the ACMA, or a person accredited under section 263 of the Act, undertakes coordination procedures for the purpose of minimising interference.

This licensing option supports the deployment of radiocommunication links during emergencies. Typically, a temporary fixed link is required for deployment within hours of a need arising for communications, such as during floods or bushfires.

This licensing option facilitates the authorisation of a fixed point to point station anywhere in Australia, on available channels in the 13, 15 or 22 GHz bands, for a period of up to 14 days, for any purpose. An important condition of operation is that radiofrequency co-ordination is necessary before every deployment.

Licence conditions

The operation of radiocommunications equipment authorised by a fixed licence is subject to:

  • conditions specified in the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Radcomm Act), including an obligation to comply with the Act;
  • a condition that any radiocommunication device operated under the licence must comply with all the standards applicable to it;
  • conditions specified in any determination made by the ACMA under paragraph 107(1)(f) of the Radcomm Act;
  • conditions specified in the licence; and
  • any further conditions imposed by the ACMA under section 111 of the Radcomm Act.

Generally, conditions applied to licence to enable users to communicate effectively with a minimum of interference. All conditions relating to a licence must be complied with.

Licence conditions determinations

Under paragraph 107(1)(f) of the Radcomm Act, the ACMA may determine, by written instrument, conditions relating to a particular type of apparatus licence. These conditions are known as Licence Conditions Determinations (LCDs). LCDs contain the generic conditions particular to radiocommunications licence types and licensing options, including details of assigned frequencies or frequency bands, and permitted power levels.

The Radiocommunications Licence Condition (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015 contains licence conditions that are common to all apparatus licences.

The LCD for the fixed licence type is entitled Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Fixed Licence) Determination 2015 (the Fixed LCD), and currently contains the conditions applicable to the point to point, point to multipoint, SOB, TOB, TOB system and TOB network licensing options only.

An Advisory note is automatically attached to licences where a LCD is in force. The note references the applicable LCD.

The licence conditions imposed through the relevant LCD may change from time to time. Licensees should ensure that they have informed themselves of the current conditions imposed by the ACMA.

Special conditions

Any other conditions of operation which apply to an individual licence but are not included in the LCD, will be printed on the licence under the heading 'Special Conditions'.

An accredited person may ask the ACMA to impose one or more special conditions on the licence according to the circumstances in which the frequency assignments for the licence are made.

Advisory notes

Advisory notes, providing information that may be of interest to a licensee, will be printed on the licence under the heading 'Advisory Notes'.

An accredited person may ask the ACMA to impose one or more advisory notes on the licence according to the circumstances in which the frequency assignments for the licence are made.

Callsigns

The licensee of a fixed station must use either a form of identification that clearly identifies the station, or a callsign allocated by the ACMA, at the start of each transmission or series of transmissions.

Callsigns are a unique combination of letters and numbers allocated to a radiocommunications user to identify a station. Callsigns must be used for all on-air communications including testing. Callsigns allocated to fixed stations conform with International Telecommunication Union Radio Regulations as shown in Table 1.

Table 1 - Fixed Callsign Template

aaamnn

Fixed callsign template (example of typical callsign VKA714)

aaa

first two alpha characters are VH, VI, VJ, VK, VL, VM, VN, VZ, or AX, with the third character representing the State or Territory in which the station is operated, for example, N = New South Wales and Q = Queensland

m

numeric character 2 - 9

n

numeric character 0 - 9

Duration

Apparatus licences may be issued for periods up to five years. However, the most common period is one year.

Applying for an apparatus licence

Applications for an apparatus licence may be made to Customer Service Centre. Applicants should complete the appropriate ACMA spectrum form. If frequency assignments are required with this licence, the frequency coordination work may be performed either by the ACMA or an accredited person.

If the work is to be done by the ACMA, a form entitled Application for additional station information (R077) should also be submitted with the licence application.

Alternatively if you wish to use the services of an accredited person, you should refer to the List of Accredited Persons for contact details. An accredited person will issue you with a frequency assignment certificate and this should be submitted with the licence application to the ACMA. Accredited persons are not employed by the ACMA, nor is the ACMA responsible for the work of accredited persons.

More information about Accreditation can be found on the ACMA website.

Fees

Spectrum is a valuable resource. Fees are intended to ensure a fair return to the Commonwealth for the private use of this valuable public resource. Licence fees are set having regard to spectrum location, geographical location, amount of spectrum occupied and coverage area authorised by the licence.

Detailed information about fees is provided in the Apparatus Licence Fee Schedule booklet.

Licence fee exemptions and concessions

Individuals and organisations may be eligible for an exemption or concession from the payment of licence fees. For further information see Licence Fee Exemptions and Discounts.

Transfers of apparatus licences

Apparatus licences may be transferred. Applicants wishing to transfer an apparatus licence should complete and submit to the ACMA, the form entitled Application for transfer of apparatus licence(s) (R060). Both the transferer and the transferee must sign the transfer form. Applicants are required to pay a transfer charge to cover the ACMA's administrative expenses.

There are a number of limitations on the transfer of apparatus licences. The Radiocommunications (Limitation of Authorisation of Third Party Users and Transfer of Apparatus Licences) Determination 2015 specifies these limitations.

A device authorised by the transferred licence is still required to operate under the same technical conditions (including transmission site) as specified on the original licence.

Third party operation

There are a number of limitations on third party authorisations. The Radiocommunications (Limitation of Authorisation of Third Party Users and Transfer of Apparatus Licences) Determination 2015 specifies these limitations. Licensees may authorise, by written instrument, other persons to operate radiocommunications devices under the apparatus licence.

A person authorised to use a radiocommunications device under a third party authorisation is subject to all of the conditions applicable to that device under the licence.


Footnotes

  1. 'Low Capacity' is defined in ( FX 11).
  2. 3.4 GHz Point to Multipoint Services for Wireless Local Loop' ( FX 14).
  3. 'Frequency Assignment Requirements for Narrowband Single Channel Two Frequency Point-to-Point Services in the 900 MHz Band Plan as a channel width of greater than 25 kHz, but not exceeding 400 kHz.

 

Last updated: 06 November 2017