Amateur Licence Conditions re-make – 2015
The Amateur Licence Conditions Determination (LCD) was re-made at the end of June 2015 and quietly published on the Australian Government ComLaw website in the second week of July. One had to be watching regularly to know that it had happened. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) made no announcement about it.
Roger Harrison - VK2ZRH
The previous LCD ("No.1 of 1997") ceased on 7 July 2015, as reported on the ComLaw website.
This "new" LCD replaces the previous one, which was to "sunset" (expire) on 1st October this year. The re-made LCD enables amateur radio in Australia to continue uninterrupted.
The ACMA's intention was to 'tidy up' the expiring LCD, so no significant changes have been made. In the tidying-up process, we have gained a few small concessions, lost a few things we already knew were going, and had a number of issues clarified.
In response to the ACMA’s consultation process, over March and April 2015, leading up to re-making the LCD, two submissions were made – one from the WIA and the other a private submission from Dale Hughes VK1DSH.
In the four pages of terms defined under Interpretation in the re-made LCD, there are quite a few changes, most relating to drafting style. However, of particular interest is the revised interpretation for the term “call sign” (make sure you always used complete call signs on-air!) and the deletion of the term “qualified operator”, which was in the previous LCD. It appears that the re-made LCD relies on the Radiocommunications (Qualified Operators) Determination 2005 for the interpretation of qualified operator.
The general intent of the licence conditions remains unchanged, apart from those few things that we already knew about.
The good news
The good news is that the previous restrictions on 50 to 52 MHz for eastern states operators (to avoid Ch.0 TV interference) have been lifted, albeit amateurs remain a secondary service in these 2 MHz.
The 2300-2302 MHz band is retained. There has been no recent announcement from the ACMA about its 2013 proposal to withdraw the 2300-2302 MHz amateur allocation so that 2300-2400 MHz could be re-allocated for Spectrum Licensing.
However, the WIA considers that 2300-2302 MHz is still "under threat" and we'll have to await the outcome, firstly, of any allocation decisions from WRC-15 that may affect the 2300-2400 MHz band and, secondly, the government’s Spectrum Review currently under way. If the band is affected, it will take the authorities some time to update the Australian Radio Frequency Spectrum Plan and revise the allocation for 2300-2400 MHz, let alone licence it under the foreshadowed new spectrum management regime.
Geographic restrictions on the use of 472-479 kHz near Exmouth in Western Australia have been lifted, because there is no longer a non-directional beacon there.
The not-so-good news
Restriction of the use of the 472-479 kHz band in northern Australia, to avoid interference with a non-directional beacon on Timor, has been retained. The band cannot be used inside a geographic region within a radius of 2000 km from the Timor NDB. Unfortunately, this extends well south into VK8, affecting amateurs from Darwin to Alice Springs, in particular. The two submissions to the ACMA sought a reduction of the radius to 1500 km.
In addition, the submissions requested a change to the bandwidth of transmissions on 472-479 kHz, from 2.1 kHz to 2.7 kHz, so that conventional SSB could be used while still excluding full-carrier AM. The re-made LCD has stuck to the previous condition of 2.1 kHz.
You win some, you lose some.
The foreshadowed geographic restrictions in the 3300-3600 MHz (9 cm) band are set out in the re-made LCD. Two blocks of spectrum, at 3400-3425 MHz and 3492.5-3542.5 MHz, may be withdrawn from Amateur use in limited geographic areas if licences are issued to the NBN for fixed wireless services in metro fringe and hard to service areas of the major mainland cities. The geographic areas are specified in Schedule 4A, covering the surrounds of Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
This does not mean that Advanced amateurs have "lost" the popular, most-used section of the 9 cm band, at 3400-3425 MHz. Outside any areas where 3400 MHz licences are issued to the NBN, it’s "business as usual" for amateur radio on the 9 cm band.
Everyone needs to read the LCD
All licensees are encouraged to read and familiarize themselves with the new LCD. It’s part of the obligations of having an Amateur licence. Prospective amateurs are made aware of the LCD and asked questions about it by WIA assessors at the time of the practical assessment.
The re-made LCD can be downloaded from the Determinations page of the website, at this Link
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