Skip to main content
Link to Home page
Figure of Safety

Know the rules that apply to recreational drone users and fly safely.

Figure of Have your say

Your feedback, comments and complaints help us to better understand and address community or industry concerns.

Spectrum policy

The Australian Government recognises the importance of radiofrequency spectrum to the sector and values the views of stakeholders on their future spectrum needs to inform our spectrum management arrangements.

Emerging aviation systems use a variety of communication technologies operating in both dedicated and shared spectrum, including satellite and cellular mobile technologies. Spectrum is essential to both Control and Non-Payload Communications (CNPC) and payload communications and is a key enabler for safe and efficient scalability into the future.

Spectrum policy

The Australian Government is working to help key stakeholders in the emerging aviation technologies sector gain a better understanding of Australia’s spectrum planning and allocation processes, and help the drone and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) sector develop a more coordinated perspective of their future spectrum needs. This will inform the spectrum policy and regulatory frameworks in the future.

The coordination of industry perspectives on spectrum policy is an important Australian Government initiative and aligns with the immediate term (2022-23) roadmap activities in the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's (CASA) Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and AAM Strategic Regulatory Roadmap, released on 1 July 2022.

  • Future spectrum workshop

    In August 2022, the department hosted the Emerging Aviation Technologies Future Spectrum workshop in Melbourne, supported by representatives from portfolio agencies the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and CASA.

    The workshop began by introducing and explaining the policy, spectrum regulation and aviation safety regulation environments. Subsequent interactive discussions were centred around 3 high level themes: spectrum, aviation and governance. Discussions covered a wide range of technical and strategic topics relating to future spectrum, including international harmonisation, access to spectrum, information transparency and sharing mechanisms, the agility of the system and best practice case studies.

    The information gathered at the workshop will form the basis for future conversations that contribute to building consensus on some of the key issues that will inform the Australian Government's next steps.

Spectrum regulation

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is the Australian Government’s spectrum management regulator. Under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 and the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005, it has responsibilities for spectrum management, including spectrum planning and allocation, and equipment regulation and enforcement powers to protect services from radiofrequency interference.

In Australia, all spectrum use must be licensed by ACMA. Many drones in the current market use shared spectrum under what is known as a class licence. A class licence allows users to operate common radio equipment on shared frequencies. Users do not need to apply for, or obtain, an individual licence, and users pay no fees to use the relevant spectrum. Class licensing is also used for applications such as Wi-Fi, cordless phones, Bluetooth speakers and certain types of medical equipment.

  • Low interference potential devices (LIPD) class licence

    Most drones in Australia operate under the low interference potential devices (LIPD) class licence, which essentially acts as a standing authorisation for (in many cases) ubiquitously available consumer devices that would be difficult to capture under other licensing regimes. More information about what devices can be operated under this licence is available on the ACMA website.

  • Supplier requirements

    Suppliers of drones in the Australian market are responsible for ensuring their product complies with ACMA’s equipment rules. To read more about these obligations visit the ACMA website.

  • Beyond visual line of sight applications

    In beyond visual line of sight applications, some drones use 4G (LTE) or 5G cellular telecommunications networks for command, control and communications links. Whether a cellular network is an option for your system will depend on a range of factors, including if your device is authorised by the network operator to connect to its network, and if the network provides the necessary coverage for your application. In Australia, this type of spectrum is generally licensed by ACMA through what is known as a spectrum licence. The network operators hold the licences for this spectrum and are responsible for ensuring that devices connected to their networks comply with the conditions of their spectrum licences.

    In applications where operation using shared spectrum under a class licence, or cellular network spectrum under a spectrum licence, is not suitable, ACMA has implemented arrangements to allow drone operators to use spectrum in the 5030–5091 MHz band. This band is allocated for aeronautical safety services on a global basis, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) are working to finalise international arrangements for this spectrum. In the meantime, ACMA has developed arrangements for apparatus licensing of line of sight remotely piloted aircraft control and non-payload communication systems in the 5055–5065 MHz band. For more information visit the ACMA website.

  • Find an accredited person

    Apparatus licences typically authorise operation of an individual device or in some cases a group of devices within a prescribed service area. Apparatus licensing may be appropriate in safety-critical applications or where devices do not comply with the conditions of the relevant class licence. Depending on the specifications of your system, it may also be possible to access spectrum in other frequency bands via an apparatus licence.

    You should approach an ACMA accredited person to assist you to understand these requirements and apply for a licence. For more information visit the ACMA website.

Five-year spectrum outlook

The ACMA regularly consults on its plans to manage, plan and allocate spectrum. Each year the ACMA publishes its five-year spectrum outlook which sets out its priorities for the next 5 years and a detailed work plan for the coming year. This is an opportunity for the emerging aviation sector to make submissions to ACMA on its spectrum needs.

You can also have your say on any of ACMA’s plans for spectrum that might be of interest.

Frequency assignment

Airservices Australia (Airservices) is responsible for the Aeronautical Radiofrequency Spectrum within Australia and its Territories. Airservices is able to provide a frequency assignment service as a first step to obtaining a radio communication apparatus licence to operate a radio transmitter within aeronautical bands. Airservices is also responsible for the Radiofrequency Spectrum used for Aeronautical VHF, HF Communication, Navigational Aids and Landing System.

If you are seeking to operate within a dedicated aeronautical frequency band, for example to use the 5055-5065 MHz band for line-of-sight RPAS CNPC links, you will need to engage with Airservices. Information on how to engage with Airservices for an aeronautical frequency assignment can be found on the Airservices website.

Read more

Emerging aviation technology policies
Figure of Security policy
Policies

Security policy

Figure of Safety policy
Policies

Safety policy

Figure of Environment policy
Policies

Environment policy

Figure of Advanced Air Mobility
Policies

Advanced Air Mobility

Figure of Privacy policy
Policies

Privacy policy

Figure of Noise policy
Policies

Noise policy

Read more

Emerging aviation technology policies
Figure of Security policy
Policies

Security policy

Figure of Safety policy
Policies

Safety policy

Figure of Environment policy
Policies

Environment policy

Figure of Advanced Air Mobility
Policies

Advanced Air Mobility

Figure of Privacy policy
Policies

Privacy policy

Figure of Noise policy
Policies

Noise policy