Why do radio transmitters have to comply with licences?
Radio licences are used internationally to manage the interaction between radio services and to limit harmful interference to receivers. All radio transmissions in New Zealand are authorised by licences issued in accordance with the Radiocommunications Act 1989, or are exempted from requiring a licence.
Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) is responsible for ensuring that licensing compliance requirements are met.
We achieve this by:
- managing audits or radio transmitters to ensure that transmissions are in accordance with the terms and conditions of a licence.
- coordinating follow-up to non-compliance including the issue of Warning Notices and Infringements Notices, or prosecution proceedings as appropriate.
RSM's compliance programme is based on:
- Radiocommunication act 1989
- Radiocommunications Regulations 2001
- Radiocommunications Notices and Codes of Practice prescribed in the New Zealand Gazette.
What is a licence?
A licence is a record in the Register of Radio Frequencies authorising the transmission of radio waves in accordance with technical conditions such as:
- modulation characteristics
- equipment performance standards
The licence may also specify particular operating conditions such as the purpose or service for which it is intended. Some general conditions are applied to all licences issued in New Zealand (Schedule 1, Radiocommunications Regulations 2001).
What risks arise from not having a licence, or not complying with the conditions shown on a licence?
Licences are about managing the risk of interference to other radiocommunications services and users. Radio services in New Zealand are planned on the basis of licence information recorded in the Register of Radio Frequencies. If a transmitter is not recorded in the Register, or is operating in contravention of conditions shown in the Register, there is a risk of interference to (or from) existing licensed services.
There is an additional risk that any services planned subsequently may suffer interference because the engineering process cannot take the missing or faulty information into account. Apart from the costs or risks to life and property caused by interference, there can also be significant costs involved in the investigation, location and resolution of interference.
How does RSM promote compliance with the licensing framework?
Suppliers of transmitting equipment are licensed by RSM (see Licence to Supply Radio Transmitters) and are encouraged by an auditing programme to ensure that radio equipment complies with required standards before being supplied.
RSM also encourages intending radio users to work with engineers and certifiers from the radio industry to plan and obtain suitable licences for their desired service. To this end, the SMART system provides the necessary information from the Register of Radio Frequencies to enable the planning and creation of licences. Licence holders can also check their licence information, update their user details and pay fees through SMART.
The RSM auditing programme extends to checking a sample of 5% annually of new and existing radio services to ensure that correct details are maintained in the Register. A condition of licences is that authorised RSM staff be provided access to radio transmitters to make such checks. The Regulations provide for infringement notices (with fines) to be issued for observed offences or for prosecution action to be taken through the Courts. Further information on the compliance processes can be read in the Compliance guide [1.75 MB PDF].