Amateur Radio in Australia - News

Last Updated: Nov-06

Foundation Licences reach 1000

November 06

The experiment with Foundation Licences has paid off with foundation licence number 1000 being issued recently, according to an article in November Amateur Radio magazine, the journal of the WIA.

New Amateur Licence Structure Now Law

19 October 2005

On Wednesday 19 October 2005 the new Australian amateur licence structure came into force.

At that time, the Determination made by the Australian Communications and Media Authority amending the Amateur Licence Conditions Determination became the law.

Australia now has three licence classes.

  1. The amateur Foundation licence. Holders of the Foundation licence can only use a transmitter that has been manufactured commercially, can only use voice, on either SSB, AM or FM or morse using a manually operated morse key, and not more than 10 watts output power ssb or 3 watts output power AM, FM or CW. Bands permitted are the 80, 40, 15 and 10 metre bands as well as the 2 metre band and the band 430 to 450 MHz, subject to necessary bandwidth restrictions.
  2. The Amateur Standard licence includes the existing Novice, and Novice Limited licensees, who can use any emission mode with a necessary bandwidth not exceeding 8 kHz on the 80, 40, 20 and 15 metre bands, and any emission mode with a necessary bandwidth not exceeding 16 kHz on the 10 metre band, the band 52 to 54 MHz, the 2 metre band, and the bands 430 to 450 MHz, 1240 to 1300 MHz, 2,400 to 2,450 MHz and 5.650 to 5.850 GHz, with no change to the current output power limits of 100 watts (PEP for SSB) and 30 watts (constant carrier modes).
  3. The Advanced licence includes the former Unrestricted licence, the Limited licence and the Intermediate licence, who can use any emission mode with a necessary bandwidth not exceeding 8 kHz on all bands below 24.990 MHz, any emission mode with a necessary bandwidth not exceeding 16 kHz on the 28.00 MHz to 29.70 MHz band, any emission mode with a necessary bandwidth not exceeding 100 kHz on the 6 and 2 metre bands and any emission mode with no bandwidth restriction in the amateur bands above 420 MHz, and with no change to the current output power limits of 400 watts (PEP for SSB) and 120 watts (for constant carrier modes).

Full details of the Determination and other administrative details including the arrangements being made by ACMA to substitute new licences for existing licenses can be found at the ACMA website, The changes are explained in the document explaining the new arrangements which also contains links to other documents covering special issues such as reciprocal licencing, repeaters and beacons.

Licence Classes Revised - Foundation Licence Introduced

1 October 2005

The Australian Amateur Radio Licencing environment is about to be shaken up by the rationalisation of the existing licence classes, which followed the abolition of morse code proficiency testing, and the introduction of a Foundation Licence. At this stage (early October 2005) the law has not yet changed but it is apparently imminent.

The most informative reference I can offer on the details of the new licence structures and the Foundation licence itself is at, a site run by Amateur Radio Victoria.

Updates to the FAQ will be finalised once the new arrangements are law. But clearly if you are one of those people who has always been interested in radio communication as a hobby and found the amateur exams too complex but that CB did not meet your needs, you may well find this new Foundation amateur licence is just what you have hoped for. Stay tuned.

Broadband over power lines - BPL

June 2005

There is an increasing realisation among radio amateurs that power companies wishing to cash in on the demand for broadband internet services, are actively testing and seriously considering introducing long term services using BPL technology.

BPL sends high bandwidth signals along conventional power lines. The claim is that the lines are balanced and there is little radiation. Tests have shown that there is a lot of radiation. It makes wide bands of radio spectrum unusable by radiating a digital signal of significantly high strength, capable of making casual listening to shortwave, broadcast and lower VHF signals impossible.

BPL works by sending radio signals along wires. Until now this was called connecting a transmitter to an antenna. If anyone proposed sending wideband, radio signals along an unshielded and unbalanced transmission line, their equipment would be shut down and seized by the regulatory agency. The persons responsible would soon be in court facing charges against the Communications legislation. But in the case of BPL we see that all the usual protection of the radio spectrum appears to be suspended. And common technical knowledge appears to be suspended.

Several thousand one watt HF transmitters spread across a city amounts to a several thousand watt transmitter. When the transmitter is an AM transmitter run by a government, this is called short wave broadcasting. But apparently when it is a BPL service that wipes out the HF spectrum in any place within HF propagation range, it is no longer considered a radio transmitter. This is lunacy. It's interference of the kind that the regulatory authority is supposed to prevent.

Two-way radios were thought to be out of date when cell phone technology became cheap and readily available. However in times of crisis such as bushfires experienced in the past few years in Australia, cell phone technology turned out to be much less useful than expected. It didn't have the network capacity to handle thousands of local phone calls to service desperate citizens as well as fire services traffic. Having an independent network of radio-based communications is crucial to delivering fire services.

"If you understand the potential impact, you will understand that BPL is the most serious risk that faces amateur radio today. Owen Duffy VK1OD"

Some links to BPL related websites:

WIA a single national body - Divisions effectively abolished

January 2004

In 2004 there was a major change in the structure of the Wireless Institute of Australia. It changed to an organisation whose members were individual radio amateurs. Previously individuals were members of one of the State based "divisions" which were in turn members of the national body. In 2004, the Divisions were effectively set aside, and the WIA changed to a national association which individuals join to receive national benefits. Local services are now the province of radio clubs, which individuals join independently of their WIA membership.

During the year each of the "Divisions" considered the new arrangements and in December 2004 the last Division formally accepted the new arrangements.

Morse Code Test removed

At the World Radiocommunications Conference of 2003 the ITU removed Morse code testing as a mandatory requirement for amateur licences below 30MHz - effective 5 July, 2003.

Australian Morse Code Test abolished 1 Jan 04

The Australian Communications Authority took action to effectively abolish the requirement for a morse test, effective 1 January 2004. This followed a strong request for this action from the WIA and many individuals during 2003.

All licence classes previously restricted by the lack of the morse qualification, were merged into the corresponding licence class giving HF privileges for the first time to many Australian radio amateurs.

These changes have been reflected in this FAQ document. Most references to the Morse test have been updated.