Space network licensing | ACMA

Space network licensing

You cannot operate a space-based radiocommunications network in Australia without an appropriate licence.

All transmitting and receiving devices, including earth stations and space stations on satellites, must be authorised by a licence issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA). If the network is used for telecommunications purpose, then a carrier licence may be needed.

The ACMA supports licensing for a wide variety of space-based communications systems, taking into account:

  1. its configuration

  2. how it uses Australian spectrum.

The commercial preferences of the satellite operator, the service provider or the end user may also affect the nature of the licensing arrangements.

Who needs a licence?

Operation of a satellite network may involve many tiers of ownership or service provision, including:

  1. operators of a satellite

  2. resellers of satellite capacity

  3. providers of services from a satellite

  4. consumers or users of a satellite service.

Any of these parties may hold the licences for a space-based communications system.

Before you operate a satellite service consider:

  1. Is a licence needed for this particular device?

  2. Does someone already hold a licence for it? 

  3. What types of licences are there?

  4. What types of licence do I need?

Who doesn't need a licence?

You do not need to apply for a licence if the operation of the network you are using or wish to use is already authorised (i.e. another party already holds a licence).

How do I apply for a licence?

To apply for an apparatus licence, you must complete and submit appropriate form.

How long does it take to get one?

The time it takes to get a licence varies from case to case.

If your application is straightforward, a licence may be issued within the specified periods indicated in the ACMA’s Customer Service Charter.

If your application is particularly complicated or requires amendment of a Determination, it may take six months or longer before a licence can be issued.

Licensing via the ground or space segment

For satellite-based communications systems, both uplink and downlink frequencies generally need to be licensed. The ACMA offers the choice of licensing the space segment (satellites) or licensing the ground segment (earth stations). The most suitable option depends on the configuration of the satellite, or the satellite system, the nature of its use of Australian spectrum and the commercial preferences of the satellite operator or the service provider. In some cases, if one part of the system is authorised by an apparatus licence, the remainder may be covered by a class licence.

For example:

  1. You can authorise uplink and downlink frequencies using individual apparatus licences for fixed or mobile earth stations communicating with space stations, or other earth stations via a space station. OR

  2. You can authorise uplink and downlink frequencies by individual apparatus licences for the space segment, namely, for space stations. If a space receive licence is used, then the earth stations communicating with the space station could be covered by the Class Licence.

Licensing via the ground segment

This involves the following licences:

As the earth stations use the frequency ranges specified in the licences, their operation does not have to be limited to a particular satellite. This arrangement supports earth stations that communicate with several satellites in the course of normal operations.

Licensing via the space segment

This involves these individual licences:

Earth stations communicating with space stations are authorised by the Class Licence, which specifies broad frequency bands within which space and space receive licences can be issued. The Class Licence only authorises earth stations operating within these bands and only with apparatus-licensed space stations.

Space segment licensing is not feasible in all frequency bands.

Currently, space segment licensing arrangements can be supported in the following frequency ranges:

Uplink Frequency Ranges
(earth to space)

Downlink Frequency Ranges
(space to earth)

148 - 150.05 MHz or
1610 - 1660.5 MHz or
399.9 - 400.05 MHz or
14.0 - 14.5 GHz or
28.5 - 29.1 GHz or

29.5 - 30 GHz


137 - 138 MHz or
400.05 - 400.15 MHz or
400.15 - 401 MHz or
1525 - 1559 MHz or
1613.8 - 1626.5 MHz or
2483.5 - 2500 MHz or
11.7 - 12.75 GHz or

17.7 -18.2 GHz or
18.8 - 19.3 GHz or

19.7 - 20.2 GHz

Licence 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 licence fees is in the Radiocommunications Apparatus Licence Fees and Charges booklet. 

Last updated: 27 June 2019