The Australian and Western Australian Governments established a radio quiet zone to protect our world-class radio-astronomy site. This site will host the Australian SKA telescope.
A radio quiet zone is an area where signal levels from radiocommunications equipment (like television transmitters, mobile phones and CB radios) and electrical devices are controlled to limit interference to radio telescopes.
The Australian Radio Quiet Zone WA (ARQZWA) protects radio astronomy while allowing for opportunities for coexistence with other activities in the region.
The ARQZWA is centred on the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), managed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
The ARQZWA comprises:
We measure the zones from the centre point of the ARQZWA at latitude 26° 42’15” South, longitude 116° 39’ 32” East (GDA94 datum). This point is about 350 km north-east of Geraldton.
Under regulations put in place by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) there are specific requirements for each of these zones.
Radio astronomy is the primary user of radiofrequency spectrum in this zone. Other radio users are secondary to radio astronomy use.
The following legislative, regulatory and policy instruments reflect these priorities:
In this zone, the governments endeavour to maximise opportunities for coexistence between radio astronomy and other activities such as mining and pastoralism.
This is consistent with the Radiocommunications (Mid West Radio Quiet Zone) Frequency Band Plan 2011 and RALI MS 32.
A number of Coordination Zones extend the radio quiet zone up to a 260 km radius (depending on frequency), as specified by the ACMA in Radiocommunications Assignment and Licensing Instruction (RALI) MS 32.
If you are carrying out exploration and mining within the Inner Zone (70 km radius) you must submit a Radio Emissions Management Plan [448KB DOCX] to the DMIRS for approval, in accordance with the RTMRMA. The plan must demonstrate that the proposed operation will be consistent with radio-astronomy requirements.
For mining within the ARQZWA, DMIRS have reserved two areas of land under Section 19 of the Mining Act (WA) which are exempt from the granting of mining tenements.
Find out more from the SKA project page on the DMIRS website.
Using a radio transmitter in Australia legally requires one of three types of licences. Within the radio quiet zone the ACMA regulates these licences as follows:
Commercial or large radio installations use apparatus licences. Some examples include:
If you are applying for apparatus licences in the ARQZWA, consult with the MRO Entity about the impact of the proposed transmitter on radio astronomy. If interference from your proposed transmitter in the coexistence zone would exceed the thresholds specified in the regulations, you are required to undertake measures to reduce interference to acceptable levels.
Relevant procedures and interference thresholds are in the:
Class licences are automatically applied to most common low-power radio devices including:
Within the Inner Zone (70 km radius), relevant class licences contain conditions to prevent interference with radio astronomy. These conditions require that use of a class-licensed device must stop if the CSIRO notifies the operator that it is causing interference to radio astronomy.
Spectrum licences typically apply to a group of transmitters operated by service providers such as mobile telephone companies rather than individual installations. The ACMA has placed conditions on relevant spectrum licences to limit interference to radio astronomy.
For more information contact the ACMA.
Throughout Australia—including within the ARQZWA—the Radiocommunications Act 1992 allows you to use radiocommunication devices in urgent situations involving safety of life, major environmental threats or significant damage to property.
Within the Outer Zone (70–150 km radius), the goal of the governments is for both radio astronomy and other activities to be successfully undertaken to maximise opportunities to the region. While still protecting radio astronomy, we work with industry and the scientific community to facilitate continued development and viability of other economic activities in the region. We do this by encouraging negotiation of mutually agreeable strategies to control radio-frequency interference. Follow the process described in RALI MS 32.
If you’re planning an activity requiring radiocommunication licences in the ARQZWA, contact CSIRO at atnf-spectrum [at] csiro.au.
Email ska [at] industry.gov.au
Last updated: 17 August 2021
Content ID: 46306