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New apparatus licence – very low power category

In early 2020, the ACMA announced a change in the types of apparatus licenses – these are the main types of licence used by our clients. Standard licences (40km radius operational area) and low power licenses (10km radius operational area) have always existed and been used to cover most operations.

However, during this past year ARCIA lobbied the ACMA, pointing out that there are now a very large number of radio systems that are basically operating as ambulatory (no fixed base station) or very low power radios as they are basically only operating in a building or over a couple of hundred yards at the most.

After much discussion, the ACMA accepted our arguments and introduced the ‘very low power’ licence category, with a frequency re-use ratio of 2km. Our recommendation to the ACMA was based on the fact that with such a low re-use factor there could be many more low-power in-plant services licenced without having to occupy as much bandwidth.

Spectrum Pricing Review – lower licence fees for very low power services

Also, as part of the ACMA Spectrum Pricing Review, we recommended that these very low power  services should be offered a lower licence fee to encourage better spectrum efficiency. As a result, the outcome of the Spectrum Pricing Review was that the very low power services should have a licence fee only half that of the low power service category. A great outcome for spectral efficiency!

We ask all industry personnel to understand the differences to ensure you request the correct form of licence. If you have clients with low-power systems – that are either ambulatory or with antennas below five metres AGL – have a chat to the ACMA and get the licence(s) amended – opening up more spectrum opportunities.

In addition to the above good news on licence fees, the ACMA review the apparatus licence fees annually; one section of the pricing component is adjusted in line with CPI each year. This past year the CPI has actually fallen, so that will be reflected in the new licence fees for the present year. The actual drop in licence fees will only be around 0.3%, but it does show some transparency of licence fee calculations.