ACMA looking to update radiation rulings

Australian Communications and Media Authority

Friday, 23 July, 2021

ACMA looking to update radiation rulings

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) is proposing to amend various ACMA legislative instruments to reference a new radiation protection standard published by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). Further details about the proposed updates are available on the ACMA website. Views are welcome by close of business on Monday, 23 August 2021.

Some legislative instruments made by the ACMA regulate human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic energy (EME) emissions from equipment (such as mobile telephone handsets) and radiocommunications facilities (such as mobile telephone base stations). These instruments, in conjunction with the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act), require certain equipment to comply with the exposure levels specified in a standard published by ARPANSA. ARPANSA published a new standard in February 2021, cited as the ‘Standard for Limiting Exposure to Radiofrequency Fields – 100 kHz to 300 GHz (2021)’.

ACMA proposes to incorporate the new ARPANSA Standard into its equipment supply arrangements by amending the General Equipment Rules. The ACMA expects this to be a first step in a staged program to incorporate all radio standards and labelling notices into the General Equipment Rules. The ACMA also proposes to amend licensing instruments to incorporate references to the new ARPANSA Standard. While some changes to class licensing instruments were made in June 2021, some additional class licences amendments are required, as is amendment to the instrument placing EME-related conditions on apparatus licences.

Stakeholder feedback is sought on these proposed amendments to ACMA legislative instruments. ACMA regulates human exposure to radiofrequency EME emissions through: regulatory arrangements for transmitters defined as mobile stations at the point of supply to the Australian market, including testing, labelling and record-keeping obligations; plus licence conditions restricting the operation of radiocommunications transmitters.

The objective of the arrangements is to ensure that public exposure to EME from radiocommunications transmitters does not exceed the Australian EME exposure limits in the ARPANSA Standard.

The new ARPANSA Standard also includes additional limits at frequencies above 6 GHz, including the mmWave bands used for 5G technologies. It updates: the methods for verification of compliance with the limits specified by the new ARPANSA Standard; requirements for the management of risk to workers; plus measures for protection of the general public.

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