Citizens Band Radio (CB) had been used in Australia for a number of years before it was legalised. Initially it was the 27MHz or HF band that was popular, especially as the USA already had a 27MHz CB band since the 1950’s, so radio equipment could be procured from the US. Also, a UHF CB band did not exist anywhere in the world at this time, so as far as Australian CBers were concerned, 27MHz was the only CB band of interest.
In Australia the band of interest was already in use by the Amateur Radio service. From around 1972 “pirate” CB operators started to appear, which didn’t exactly sit right with the legal Amateur operators or the “Radio Inspector” (then part of the “Post Master General” or PMG). However, the interest continued and in February 1975 the first “CB Convention” was held, hosted by the Australian Citizens Radio Movement (ACRM), forerunner to the modern-day ACRM/ACREM family.
Following this the campaign to have CB legalised in Australia pushed forward, powered by groups such as ACRM and truck drivers across Australia. Finally in June 1977 official word came that CB would be legalised in Australia, with licences (initially at $25 per radio) available from 1st July 1977 for operation on an 18 channel service on the 27MHz HF band (27.015 to 27.185MHz), then soon after also as a 40 channel service on the 476/477MHz UHF band (476.425 to 477.400MHz). This latter UHF band is unique to Australia and New Zealand.
Although the 27MHz band was initially set to be phased out after 5 years (the plan was for all 27MHz users to migrate onto the UHF band), following more Australia wide protests in 1982 the plan to abolish the HF band was itself abolished and the band was expanded to 40 channels, to match the US frequency allocations (26.965 to 27.405MHz).
What is CB Radio?
According to the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA):
The Citizen Band Radio Service (CBRS) is a two-way, short distance, voice communications service that provides a cheap, reliable means of communication.
The service is for public access and available to everyone. If a company chooses to use the service for business, they have no rights of exclusivity and must accept other users on the same channel.
Refer: Citizen band radio
In 1994 the need for an individual to apply and pay for a licence to use a CB was phased out and a Class Licence introduced. Just like the Class Licence applied to mobile phones, this Class Licence automatically covered anyone using a CB without the need to fork out money, however despite some popular misconceptions it did not mean the CB bands were now “deregulated”.
Under the Class Licence essentially the same rules and regulations governing CB remained in force, with serious penalties also remaining for anyone who breached the provisions of the Class Licence. Although many UHF sets started to be promoted as “licence-free”, in fact they were indeed covered by a licence, it was just that you no longer needed to pay for it.
More Information? Please select what you would like to view:
- Emergency Channels – information on the legally allocated CB emergency channels.
- CB Channels – Australian CB channel allocations and uses.
- Legal Allocation but no Licence – a bit about the Class Licence.
- Communicators – information on “licence-free” UHF, personal communicators, FRS, etc.
Planned changes to UHF
In 2011 the ACMA announced that 40 channel 25kHz (wide band) sets will become illegal as of 1 July 2017. This was to allow for the new 80 channel 12.5kHz (narrow band) sets to operate without the risk of interference from the wide band transmissions (the new set of 40 channels were placed in-between the existing 40 channels, so that channel 41 sat between channels 1 and 2, etc.)
In early 2017 the ACMA announced that it would not outlaw 40 channel wide band sets on 1 July 2017 as planned. Much of this decision was due to the fact that several interest groups did not seem to know about the changes announced back in 2011, and so had made no plans to upgrade to 80 channel narrow band equipment before mid-2017.
Why you should still upgrade
While the 40 channel sets will still work, and talk to the “bottom half” of the 80 channel band, they pose a real risk of interference to the new 80 channel band sets and repeaters. Why this happens is very simple.
40 channel wide band sets have a channel spacing of 25kHz and transmit a signal that is 16kHz wide (8kHz either side of the channel). When there were only 40 channels this was fine as there was 25kHz between channels, so a nice buffer (9kHz to be exact), but when the 80 channel band was introduced this changed. Suddenly there was a channel placed in between the channels, so now there is only 12.5kHz between the old and new channels. This is a problem when you have a signal on (let’s say) channel 1 extending up 8kHz, and another on channel 2 extending down 8kHz. Now the new channel 41 is being swamped by a signal from either side! This becomes worse when the new repeater band starts to be allocated and users on the upper channels operating wide band radios wipe out the input channels for the new repeaters.
More info on CB?
If you want more information about CB, and the protocols to use on CB and on the highway while travelling, look at Glenn Farmer’s book UHF/CB Use & Highway Protocol
Glenn contacted ACREM some time ago to request permission to use some of the information on our site in his eBook. Glenn has presented some of the essential information for anyone traveling on our highways and roads – how to converse with the many trucks, and how to use one of the most common communications items among truckies, the UHF/CB Radio. UHF and CB Radio equipment is more common than many believe, and it can be an invaluable source of contact, especially in an emergency.
We welcome the creation of this eBook, and the information it contains. Not only does it provide valuable information about the use of CB equipment, but it also offers car drivers an insight into some of the other communications methods used by truck drivers – indicators and headlights – something that probably confuses many that don’t frequent our highways. I highly recommend this eBook, and trust that it will enlighten everyone who shares the roads with our truck driving friends!
Australian Citizens Radio
Emergency Monitors Inc.
Purchase the eBook at: UHF/CB Use & Highway Protocol