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BAOFENG UV-5R review

The radio snob in me wants to start off by saying that there are other radios out there – and many of them are a lot more reliable than the Baofeng UV-5R. Icom, Motorola,  & Yaesu make excellent HT (Handy Talkie) radios. And you might be much better served by having a more substantially reliable radio like one of those. If I had to put my life on the line I would prefer to have a radio I know I can count on to work when I need it to.

But as these are so inexpensive, and easy to get (on BANGGOOD) and since you’re usually looking at around $150 to get one of the better brands I decided to write this article to discuss the entry-level Baofeng so folks can understand what this radio can and can’t do. And since we now own 2 of them we shouldn’t talk too much smack about them now, should we.

The Baofeng uv5r review & Guide

Lets set your expectations. This is not a top-of-the line radio. Its not supposed to be. Its cheap, so you can rest assured that problems with these radios can arise from time to time. We’ve had one that cannot receive or transmit if the channel is changed unless you turn the unit on/off.


There are several known variants of this radio. All of them are the same hardware, the only difference is the firmware (software) they ship with. If you buy on Amazon you are probably getting the latest firmware, but there’s no guarantee. Its not a game changer, they all pretty much run the same from what I can tell.


Don’t drop these. They aren’t cream-puffs but they are not meant to be roughed up like some other radios are. But the build feels solid enough for what its meant to do.


Our suggestion is to get a good HT from Icom or Yaesu if you can spring the +$150, and get a few Baofengs as beaters and backups. Strength in numbers. But if you want something today buy the Baofeng and you rest easy that at least you covered it.


Not horrible, but only if done on a computer. If all you care about is 4-5 frequencies then you can do it on the unit. You need the computer program CHIRP to program the HT. You also need a special USB cable. Avoid the cheap knockoffs. Been there done that.

You can download a greatly improved version of the Owners Operating Manual here. Its a good idea to save a copy of this to your emergency USB stick with all your other emergency documents. You DO have an emergency USB drive, don’t you?


Citizen Band radio

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 operates in two frequency bands:

  • high frequency (HF) band – (26.965 – 27.405 MHz)
  • ultra high frequency (UHF) band – (476.4125 – 477.4125 MHz)

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.

Do I need a licence?

No. The operation of CB radios is authorised under the Radiocommunications (Citizen Band Radio Stations) Class Licence 2002. Class licences do not have to be applied for and no licence fees are payable.

The CBRS class licence does not authorise the operation of 27 MHz marine equipment.

What channel do I use to contact other travellers?

There are specific calling channels in the CB bands.

HF band:

  • channel 11 (AM – 27.085 MHz)
  • channel 16 (SSB – 27.155 MHz)

UHF band:

  • channel 11 (476.675 MHz)

Once you have established contact with another traveller, switch to another channel to continue talking. This frees the call channels for other users. If travelling in a convoy of vehicles, select a usual ‘working’ channel prior to setting out.

Can I use my CB radio to transmit data?

Yes. Data can only be transmitted on UHF channels:

  • 22 (476.950 MHz)
  • 23 (476.975 MHz)

Transmission must comply with the restrictions imposed in the CBRS class licence. These channels are dedicated to data purposes and should not be used for voice communication.

In an emergency

There are specific emergency channels that you can use:

  • channel 9 (27.065 MHz) in the HF band
  • channel 5/35 (476.525/477.275 MHz) in the UHF band

These channels are emergency channels and non-urgent traffic must be confined to other channels.

Organisations voluntarily monitor the emergency channels and may assist you in contacting the appropriate service in an emergency.

Conditions of operation

CB operators do not have to be licensed to operate their equipment, but the CBRS class licence imposes a number of operating conditions:

Compliance with mandatory standardsDevices operating under the CBRS class licence must comply with the relevant mandatory standards specified in the licence.

Operating frequenciesCB radios must only be operated on the channels that are detailed in the CBRS class licence. Operation on a channel that is not specified in the class licence is a breach of the licence conditions.

Proper conductThere are specific conditions regarding personal conduct during operation of a CB radio station, and penalties apply for improper conduct. In particular, the CBRS class licence states that:

A person must not operate a CB station:

  • in a way that would be likely to cause a reasonable person, justifiably in all the circumstances, to be seriously alarmed or seriously affronted; or
  • for the purpose of harassing a person.

Transmitter power levels

CB radio equipment must not exceed the maximum output power specified in the class licence. Attaching any external device, such as linear amplifiers, increase power is not allowed.

Other conditions

The operation of a CB radio is also subject to the provisions of the Radiocommunications Act 1992.

Breaches of licence conditions

CB radio users must comply with conditions in the class licence. If any condition of the licence is breached the operator will be liable for prosecution.

What if I cause interference?

Interference to television and radio receivers and other electronic equipment may occur when a CB radio transmitter is used nearby. Such interference is unlikely when mobile, but may occur in campsites, caravan parks or home base situations. Users should cooperate with the affected person and take reasonable steps to fix the problem.

Selective calling

Selective calling (selcall)-a technique used to enable the reception of calls from particular CB radios without having to listen to other users-is permitted under the class licence. Selcall uses the transmission of audio tones that are recognisable to receivers fitted with a compatible decoder. It can be used on either HF or UHF CB radios. Some CB radios come fitted with a selcall facility using continuous tone coded squelch system (CTCSS) techniques. CTCSS is only authorised on UHF CB bands.

CBRS repeaters

A repeater is a station established at a fixed location that receives radio signals from one CB station and automatically retransmits the signal to another station using the corresponding output channel. UHF CBRS repeaters can be found in all states and enable the range of vehicle to vehicle communications to be significantly increased.

CB repeaters are not authorised under the CBRS class licence. The repeater stations are usually located at hilltop radiocommunication sites and require specific frequency assignments and the issue of an individual apparatus licence.

Repeater channels

Channels 1 to 8 and 41 to 48 are designated as repeater output channels, with channels 31 to 38 and 71 to 78 the corresponding designated repeater input channels.

A repeater that transmits on channel 1 will always receive on channel 31. When operated in duplex/repeater mode the CB radio automatically selects the corresponding transmit/receive frequencies.

These designated repeater channels may be used for single frequency communications provided they are not used in the locality of repeaters.

Channels 5 and 35 are dedicated for emergency communications.

Please note: this document is intended as a guide only and should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as a substitute for legal advice in individual cases.

Original Article


What is UHF?

Simply put, UHF CB or citizen band radio is a two-way radio system that uses the 476.4250–477.4125MHz, radio spectrum for short-distance communications.
It is divided into 80 channels for various uses. The service is for public access and available to everyone but not all channels can be used by anyone for just any reason – there are significant penalties for misuse of channels.

For example, the Australian Government has legislated that channels 5 & 35 on the UHF CB Band are reserved for emergency use only 

As at January 2007 the maximum penalties for the misuse of the legally allocated CB emergency channels are:

  • For general misuse – if an individual 2 years imprisonment, otherwise $165,000 (a $220 on-the-spot fine can be issued in minor cases); or
  • For interference to an Emergency call – if an individual 5 years imprisonment, otherwise $550,000


The following channels are legislated as a part of the ACMA UHF CB Class Licence.

  • Channel 5 and 35 are the designated emergency channels, and are not to be used except in an emergency. To make an emergency call, switch your radio to Channel 5 with duplex on, if there is no response, try again with duplex off.
  • Channel 11 is the ‘call channel’ and is only to be used for initiating calls with another person, you should quickly organise another vacant channel to continue your discussion on.
  • Channel 22 and 23 are only to be used for telemetry and telecommand, packet data and voice transmission are not allowed.
  • Channel 61, 62 and 63 are reserved for future allocation and transmission on these channels is not allowed.


UHF’s distinct advantage over mobile phones is that it can work anywhere and requires little to no infrastructure to be in place. At the user end, all that is required is a basic radio set. The key disadvantage is that it operates on a line-of-sight basis, and therefore has very short reach. Under normal conditions, you can expect a good signal over a distance of 5 to 8km; in a high position (such as a hill), this can be increased to up to 25km. The upside is that you’re always communicating with those who are in your immediate vicinity.

UHF channels

Each of the 80 UHF channels has the following accepted use:

  • Channels 1–8 and 41–48: duplex channels (output).
  • Channels 31–38 and 71–78: duplex channels (input).
  • Channels 5 and 35: duplex channels strictly used for emergency communications.
  • Channels 9, 12 -17, 19–21 24–28, 30, 39, 49-60, 64-70, 79 and 80:general chat channels, simplex use.
  • Channel 10: 4WD Clubs or Convoys and National Parks.
  • Channel 11: Call Channel used for locating friends – a general meeting point for when communications are lost or beginning, before moving to another channel.
  • Channel 18:Caravanners and Campers Convoy Channel.
  • Channel 40: Australia Wide road safety channel used primarily by truckies and oversized load pilot vehicles.
  • Channels 22 and 23 (25kHz):Telemetry & Telecommand used for automated data communications only.
  • Channel 29: Road safety channel Pacific Hwy, Pacific Mwy (NSW & QLD).
  • Channels 61–63: reserved for future use

What is Duplex?

The ‘duplex’ function of the UHF system helps increase the range of UHF radios using repeater stations set in ideal locations, such as hills. In duplex mode, the fixed position station forwards the signal it receives from repeater input stations 31-38/71-78 to the corresponding output stations 1-8/41-48.

Any transmissions sent on non-duplex channels are sent in simplex mode, or directly between radio sets without the use of a repeater.

Changes from 12.5kHz vs. 25kHz band spacing

In 2011 the channel bandwidth or frequency spacing was split in two from 25kHz to 12.5kHz. This effectively doubled the number of available channels from 40 to the current 80. While most older radio units are not compatible, it is still possible to use them until the end of the 5-year transition period (2016).


It is important to remember that channels 5 and 35are strictly for emergency communications, as emergency services monitor channel 5 for requests for help. People found to be misusing these or any other designated channels can face hefty fines.

Once communication is established, it’s accepted that both parties continue on another channel to free the channel up. If they’re taking place over a short distance, these ‘one on one’ conversations can continue on any of the general-use channels.

It’s important to understand that all communications on every channel are public. Anyone within range of you or a repeater that you’re using can hear you and join in. For the most part, users are well behaved and respect the rules, but you may encounter trolls who want to cause trouble or new users who are unaware of the etiquette.

UHF radio is a great way of staying in touch with your convoy or just to see who’s about. Most importantly, it is a vital link to the outside world when things go wrong.

UHF CB 80 Channel Frequency List

Channel Frequency Duplex Frequency Use Channel Spacing
Channel 1
477.1750 Duplex – Repeater Output 12.5 KHz
Channel 2
477.2000 Duplex – Repeater Output 12.5 KHz
Channel 3
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 4
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 5
Duplex – Repeater Output (Emergency use only)
12.5 KHz
Channel 6
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 7
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 8
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 9
12.5 KHz
Channel 10
Simplex 4WD Drivers – Convoy, Clubs & National Parks
12.5 KHz
Channel 11
Simplex Call Channel
12.5 KHz
Channel 12
12.5 KHz
Channel 13
12.5 KHz
Channel 14
12.5 KHz
Channel 15
12.5 KHz
Channel 16
12.5 KHz
Channel 17
12.5 KHz
Channel 18
Simplex Caravan & Campers Convoy Channel
12.5 KHz
Channel 19
12.5 KHz
Channel 20
12.5 KHz
Channel 21
12.5 KHz
Channel 22
Data Only (No Voice)
25 KHz
Channel 23
Data Only (No Voice)
25 KHz
Channel 24
12.5 KHz
Channel 25
12.5 KHz
Channel 26
12.5 KHz
Channel 27
12.5 KHz
Channel 28
12.5 KHz
Channel 29
Simplex Pacific Hwy (NSW) & Bruce Hwy (Qld) Road Channel
12.5 KHz
Channel 30
Simplex UHF CB Broadcasts
12.5 KHz
Channel 31
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 32
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 33
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 34
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 35
Repeater Input (Emergency Use Only)
12.5 KHz
Channel 36
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 37
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 38
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 39
12.5 KHz
Channel 40
Simplex Highway Channel
12.5 KHz
Channel 41
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 42
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 43
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 44
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 45
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 46
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 47
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 48
Duplex – Repeater Output
12.5 KHz
Channel 49
12.5 KHz
Channel 50
12.5 KHz
Channel 51
12.5 KHz
Channel 52
12.5 KHz
Channel 53
12.5 KHz
Channel 54
12.5 KHz
Channel 55
12.5 KHz
Channel 56
12.5 KHz
Channel 57
12.5 KHz
Channel 58
12.5 KHz
Channel 59
12.5 KHz
Channel 60
12.5 KHz
Channel 61
Reserved for Future Expansion
Channel 62
Reserved for Future Expansion
Channel 63
Reserved for Future Expansion
Channel 64
12.5 KHz
Channel 65
12.5 KHz
Channel 66
12.5 KHz
Channel 67
12.5 KHz
Channel 68
12.5 KHz
Channel 69
12.5 KHz
Channel 70
12.5 KHz
Channel 71
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 72
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 73
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 74
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 75
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 76
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 77
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 78
Repeater Input
12.5 KHz
Channel 79
12.5 KHz
Channel 80
12.5 KHz

NATO phonetic alphabet

The International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, commonly known as the ICAO phonetic alphabet, sometimes called the NATO alphabet or spelling alphabet and the ITU radiotelephonic or phonetic alphabet, is the most widely used radiotelephonic spelling alphabet. Although often called “phonetic alphabets”, spelling alphabets are not associated with phonetic transcription systems such as the International Phonetic Alphabet. Instead, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) alphabet assigned codewords acrophonically to the letters of the English alphabet, so that critical combinations of letters and numbers can be pronounced and understood by those who exchange voice messages by radio or telephone regardless of language barriers or the quality of the communication channel.

The 26 code words in the NATO phonetic alphabet are assigned to the 26 letters of the English alphabet in alphabetical order as follows: Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

Code words

The final choice of code words for the letters of the alphabet and for the digits was made after hundreds of thousands of comprehension tests involving 31 nationalities. The qualifying feature was the likelihood of a code word being understood in the context of others. For example, football has a higher chance of being understood than foxtrot in isolation, but foxtrot is superior in extended communication.

The pronunciation of the code words varies according to the language habits of the speaker. To eliminate wide variations in pronunciation, recordings and posters illustrating the pronunciation desired by the ICAO are available. However, there are still differences in pronunciation between the ICAO and other agencies, and the ICAO has conflicting Roman-alphabet and IPA transcriptions. Also, although all codes for the letters of the alphabet are English words, they are not in general given English pronunciations. Assuming that the transcriptions are not intended to be precise, only 11 of the 26—Bravo, Echo, Hotel, Juliet(t), Kilo, Mike, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Whiskey, and Zulu—are given English pronunciations by all these agencies, though not always the same English pronunciations.


Letter Code word Conflicting accounts of the pronunciation
U.S. Army
Roman standard
IPA standard
ICAO recording
Consolidated transcription
A Alfa
ATIS: Alpha
ˈælfɑ al fah [ˈælfʌ] /ˈælfɑː/ al-fah
(1955: BRAH VOH)
ˈbrɑːˈvo bra vo [brɑˈvoʊ] /ˌbrɑːˈv/ brah-voh
ˈtʃɑːli  or
tchah li,
char li
/ˈɑːrl/ char-lee or
/ˈʃɑːrl/ shar-lee
ˈdeltɑ del tah [ˈdɛltʌ] /ˈdɛltɑː/ del-tah
ˈeko èk o [ˈɛkoʊ] /ˈɛk/
ˈfɔkstrɔt fox trott [ˈfɑkstrɑt] /ˈfɒkstrɒt/ foks-trot
G Golf Golf GOLF GOLF ɡʌlf [sic] golf [ˈɡʌl(f)] /ˈɡɒlf/ golf
hoːˈtel ho tèll [hoʊˈtɛl] /hˈtɛl/ hoh-tel
I India IN dee ah IN DEE AH INDEE AH or
ˈindiˑɑ in di ah [ˈɪndi.ʌ] /ˈɪndɑː/ in-dee-ah
J Juliett
ATIS: Juliet
ˈdʒuːliˑˈet djou li ètt [ˌdʒuliˈɛt] /ˈlɛt/ jew-lee-et or
/ˌlˈɛt/ jew-lee-et
ˈkiːlo ki lo [ˈkiloʊ] /ˈkl/ kee-loh
ˈliːmɑ li mah [ˈlimʌ] /ˈlmɑː/ lee-mah
M Mike Mike MIKE MIKE mɑik maïk [ˈmʌɪk] /ˈmk/ myk
N November NOH vem ber NO VEM BER NOVEMBER or
noˈvembə no vèmm ber [noʊˈvɛmbɹ̩] /nˈvɛmbər/ noh-vem-bər[17]
ˈɔskɑ oss kar [ˈɑskɹ̩] /ˈɒskɑː/ os-kah
pəˈpɑ pah pah [pəˈpɑ] /pɑːˈpɑː/ pah-pah
keˈbek bèk [kɛˈbɛk] /kɛˈbɛk/ ke-bek
R Romeo ROW me oh ROW ME OH ROWME OH or
ˈroːmiˑo ro mi o [ˈɹoʊmi.oʊ] /ˈrm/ roh-mee-oh
siˈerɑ si èr rah [siˈɛɾʌ] /sˈɛrɑː/ see-err-ah
ˈtænɡo tang go [ˈtæŋɡoʊ] /ˈtæŋɡ/ tang-goh
U Uniform YOU nee form YOU NEE FORM or
ˈjuːnifɔːm  or
you ni form,
ou ni form
/ˈjuːnfɔːrm/ ew-nee-form or
/ˈnfɔːrm/ oo-nee-form
V Victor VIK ter VIK TAH VIKTAH or
ˈviktɑ vik tar [ˈvɪktəɹ] /ˈvɪktɑː/ vik-tah
ˈwiski ouiss ki [ˈwɪski] /ˈwɪsk/ wis-kee
X X-ray
or Xray
ˈeksˈrei èkss [ˈɛksɹeɪ] /ˈɛksr/ eks-ray or
/ˌɛksˈr/ eks-ray
Y Yankee YANG kee YANG KEY YANGKEY [sic] or
ˈjænki yang ki [ˈjæŋki] /ˈjæŋk/ yang-kee
ˈzuːluː zou lou [ˈzulu] /ˈzl/ zoo-loo
– (hyphen) Dash /ˈdæʃ/ dash


Digit Code word Pronunciation SIO Wikipedia transcription
0 Zero (FAA, USMC)
Nadazero (ITU, IMO)
zi ro /ˈzr/ zee-roh
/ˌnɑːˌdɑːˌzˈr/ nah-dah-zay-roh
1 One (FAA), Won (USMC)
Unaone (ITU, IMO)
ouann /ˈwʌn/ wun
/ˌˌnɑːˈwʌn/ oo-nah-wun
2 Two (FAA), Too (USMC)
Bissotwo (ITU, IMO)
tou /ˈt/ too
/ˌbˌsˈt/ bee-soh-too
3 Three (FAA), Tree (USMC)
Terrathree (ITU, IMO)
tri /ˈtr/ tree
/ˌtˌrɑːˈtr/ tay-rah-tree
4 Four (FAA), Fo-wer (USMC)
Kartefour (ITU, IMO)
fo eur /ˈf.ər/ foh-ər
/ˌkɑːrˌtˈf.ər/ kar-tay-foh-ər
5 Five (FAA), Fife (USMC)
Pantafive (ITU, IMO)
fa ïf /ˈff/ fyf[19]
/ˌpænˌtɑːˈfv/ pan-tah-fyv
6 Six (FAA, USMC)
Soxisix (ITU, IMO)
siks /ˈsɪks/ siks
/ˌsɔːkˌsˈsɪks/ sok-see-siks
7 Seven (FAA, USMC)
Setteseven (ITU, IMO)
sèv n /ˈsɛvɛn/ sev-en
/ˌsˌtˈsɛvɛn/ say-tay-sev-en
8 Eight (FAA), Ate (USMC)
Oktoeight (ITU, IMO)
eït /ˈt/ ayt
/ˌɔːkˌtˈt/ ok-toh-ayt
9 Niner (FAA, USMC)
Nine or niner (ICAO)
Novenine (ITU, IMO)
naï neu /ˈnnər/ ny-nər[20]
/ˌnɔːvˌˈnnər/ nov-ay-ny-nər
100 Hundred (ICAO) HUN-dred (ICAO) hun-dred /ˈhʌndrɛd/ hun-dred
1000 Thousand (ICAO) TOU-SAND (ICAO) taou zend /ˌtˈsænd/ tow-zend[21]
. (decimal point) Point (FAA)
Decimal (ITU, ICAO)
DAY-SEE-MAL (ITU) (ICAO) si mal /ˌdˌsˈmæl/ day-see-mal
. (full stop) Stop (ITU) STOP (ITU) /ˈstɒp/ stop


Pronunciations are somewhat uncertain because the agencies, while ostensibly using the same pronunciations, give different transcriptions, which are often inconsistent from letter to letter. The ICAO gives a different pronunciation for IPA transcription and for respelling, and the FAA also gives different pronunciations depending on the publication consulted, the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (§ 4-2-7), the FAA Flight Services manual (§ 14.1.5), or the ATC manual (§ 2-4-16). ATIS gives English spellings, but does not give pronunciations or numbers. The ICAO, NATO, and FAA use modifications of English numerals, with stress on one syllable, while the ITU and IMO compound pseudo-Latinate numerals with a slightly different set of modified English numerals, and with stress on each syllable. Numbers 10–99 are spelled out (that is, 17 is “1–7” and 60 is “6–0”), while for hundreds and thousands the English words hundred and thousand are used.

The pronunciation of the digits 3, 4, 5, and 9 differs from standard English – being pronounced tree, fower, fife, and niner. The digit 3 is specified as tree so that it is not pronounced sri; the long pronunciation of 4 (still found in some English dialects) keeps it somewhat distinct from for; 5 is pronounced with a second “f” because the normal pronunciation with a “v” is easily confused with “fire” (a command to shoot); and 9 has an extra syllable to keep it distinct from German nein ‘no’.

Only the ICAO prescribes pronunciation with the IPA, and then only for letters. Several of the pronunciations indicated are slightly modified from their normal English pronunciations: /ˈælfɑ, ˈbrɑːˈvo, ˈʃɑːli, ˈdeltɑ, ˈfɔkstrɔt, ɡʌlf, ˈliːmɑ, ˈɔskɑ, siˈerɑ, ˈtænɡo, ˈuːnifɔrm, ˈviktɑ, ˈjænki/, partially due to the substitution of final schwas with the ah vowel; in addition, the intended distinction between the short vowels /o ɑ ɔ/ and the long vowels /oː ɑː ɔː/ is obscure, and has been ignored in the consolidated transcription above. Both the IPA and respelled pronunciations were developed by the ICAO before 1956 with advice from the governments of both the United States and United Kingdom, so the pronunciations of both General American English and British Received Pronunciation are evident, especially in the rhotic and non-rhotic accents. The respelled version is usually at least consistent with a rhotic accent (‘r’ pronounced), as in CHAR LEE, SHAR LEE, NO VEM BER, YOU NEE FORM, and OO NEE FORM, whereas the IPA version usually specifies a non-rhotic accent (‘r’ pronounced only before a vowel), as in ˈtʃɑːli, ˈʃɑːli, noˈvembə, and ˈjuːnifɔːm. Exceptions are OSS CAH, VIK TAH and ˈuːnifɔrm. The IPA form of Golf implies it is pronounced gulf, which is not either General American English or British Received Pronunciation. Different agencies assign different stress patterns to Bravo, Hotel, Juliett, November, Papa, X-ray; the ICAO has different stresses for Bravo, Juliett, X-ray in its respelled and IPA transcriptions. The mid back [ɔ] vowel transcribed in Oscar and Foxtrot is actually a low vowel in both Received British and General American, and has been interpreted as such above. Furthermore, the pronunciation prescribed for “whiskey” has no initial [h], although some speakers in both General American and RP pronounce an [h] (or [ʍ]) here, and an initial [h] (or [ʍ]) is categorical in Scotland and Ireland.


A spelling alphabet is used to spell parts of a message containing letters and numbers to avoid confusion, because many letters sound similar, for instance “n” and “m” or “f” and “s”; the potential for confusion increases if static or other interference is present. For instance the message “proceed to map grid DH98” could be transmitted as “proceed to map grid Delta-Hotel-Niner-Ait”. Using “Delta” instead of “D” avoids confusion between “DH98” and “BH98” or “TH98”. The unusual pronunciation of certain numbers was designed to reduce confusion.

In addition to the traditional military usage, civilian industry uses the alphabet to avoid similar problems in the transmission of messages by telephone systems. For example, it is often used in the retail industry where customer or site details are spoken by telephone (to authorize a credit agreement or confirm stock codes), although ad hoc coding is often used in that instance. It has been used often by information technology workers to communicate serial/reference codes (which are often very long) or other specialised information by voice. Most major airlines use the alphabet to communicate Passenger Name Records (PNRs) internally, and in some cases, with customers. It is often used in a medical context as well, to avoid confusion when transmitting information.

Several letter codes and abbreviations using the spelling alphabet have become well-known, such as Bravo Zulu (letter code BZ) for “well done”, Checkpoint Charlie (Checkpoint C) in Berlin, and Zulu Time for Greenwich Mean Time or Coordinated Universal Time. During the Vietnam War, the The U.S. government referred to the Viet Cong guerrillas and the group itself as VC, or Victor Charlie; the name “Charlie” became synonymous with this force.

USNO NAVSTAR Global Positioning System

The following Global Positioning System (GPS) information is obtained from the 1994 Federal Radionavigation Plan (FRP), prepared jointly by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Transportation (DoT) and other sources such as conferences, meetings and seminars.


The GPS is a DoD developed, worldwide, satellite-based radionavigation system that will be the DoD’s primary radionavigation system well into the next century. The constellation consists of 24 operational satellites. The U.S. Air Force Space Command (AFSC) formally declared the GPS satellite constellation as having met the requirement for Full Operational Capability (FOC) as of April 27, 1995. Requirements include 24 operational satellites (Block II/IIA) functioning in their assigned orbits and successful testing completed for operational military functionality.

Prior to FOC an Initial Operational Capability (IOC) was declared on December 8, 1993 when 24 GPS satellites (Block I and Block II/IIA) were operating in their assigned orbits, available for navigation use and providing the Standard Positioning Service (SPS) levels specified below.

GPS provides two levels of service, Standard Positioning Service and the Precise Positioning Service .

The Standard Positioning Service (SPS) is a positioning and timing service which will be available to all GPS users on a continuous, worldwide basis with no direct charge. SPS will be provided on the GPS L1 frequency which contains a coarse acquisition (C/A) code and a navigation data message. SPS provides a predictable positioning accuracy of 100 meters (95 percent) horizontally and 156 meters (95 percent) vertically and time transfer accuracy to UTC within 340 nanoseconds (95 percent).The Precise Positioning Service (PPS) is a highly accurate military positioning, velocity and timing service which will be available on a continuous, worldwide basis to users authorized by the U.S. P(Y) code capable military user equipment provides a predictable positioning accuracy of at least 22 meters (95 percent) horizontally and 27.7 meters vertically and time transfer accuracy to UTC within 200 nanoseconds (95 percent). PPS will be the data transmitted on the GPS L1 and L2 frequencies. PPS was designed primarily for U.S. military use. It will be denied to unauthorized users by the use of cryptography. PPS will be made available to U.S. and military and U.S. Federal Government users. Limited, non-Federal Government, civil use of PPS, both domestic and foreign, will be considered upon request and authorized on a case-by-case basis, provided:

  • It is in the U.S. national interest to do so.
  • Specific GPS security requirements can be met by the applicant.
  • A reasonable alternative to the use of PPS is not available.

For questions regarding GPS policy, the user is advised to refer to the regularly appearing FRP. The FRP is published every 2 years and is available from the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161. The latest report number is DOT-VNTSC-RSPA-95-1/DOD-4650.5 for report date 1994.


The satellites transmit on two L-band frequencies: L1 = 1575.42 MHz and L2 = 1227.6 MHz. Three pseudo-random noise (PRN) ranging codes are in use.

  • The coarse/acquisition (C/A) code has a 1.023 MHz chip rate, a period of 1 millisecond (ms) and is used primarily to acquire the P-code.
  • The precision (P) code has a 10.23 MHz rate, a period of 7 days and is the principal navigation ranging code.
  • The Y-code is used in place of the P-code whenever the anti-spoofing (A-S) mode of operation is activated.

The C/A code is available on the L1 frequency and the P-code is available on both L1 and L2. The various satellites all transmit on the same frequencies, L1 and L2, but with individual code assignments.

Due to the spread spectrum characteristic of the signals, the system provides a large margin of resistance to interference. Each satellite transmits a navigation message containing its orbital elements, clock behavior, system time and status messages. In addition, an almanac is also provided which gives the approximate data for each active satellite. This allows the user set to find all satellites once the first has been acquired.


Selective Availability (SA), the denial of full accuracy, is accomplished by manipulating navigation message orbit data (epsilon) and/or satellite clock frequency (dither). Anti-spoofing (A-S)guards against fake transmissions of satellite data by encrypting the P-code to form the Y-code.

SA will be implemented on Block II at the SPS levels, as soon as each Block II satellite is operational. SA was activated July 4, 1991 at 0400 UT (ref: Notice Advisory to NAVSTAR Users 121-92282 DTG 011354Z JUL 91 ). A-S was exercised intermittently through 1993 and implemented on January 31, 1994 (ref: Notice Advisory to NAVSTAR Users 050-94042, DTG 112054Z FEB 94).


The GPS consists of three major segments: SPACE, CONTROL and USER.

The SPACE segment consists of 24 operational satellites in six orbital planes (four satellites in each plane). The satellites operate in circular 20,200 km (10,900 nm) orbits at an inclination angle of 55 degrees and with a 12-hour period. The position is therefore the same at the same sidereal time each day, i.e. the satellites appear 4 minutes earlier each day.

The CONTROL segment consists of five Monitor Stations (Hawaii, Kwajalein, Ascension Island, Diego Garcia, Colorado Springs), three Ground Antennas, (Ascension Island, Diego Garcia, Kwajalein), and a Master Control Station (MCS) located at Schriever AFB in Colorado. The monitor stations passively track all satellites in view, accumulating ranging data. This information is processed at the MCS to determine satellite orbits and to update each satellite’s navigation message. Updated information is transmitted to each satellite via the Ground Antennas.

The USER segment consists of antennas and receiver-processors that provide positioning, velocity, and precise timing to the user.


GPS system time is given by its Composite Clock (CC). The CC or “paper” clock consists of all operational Monitor Station and satellite frequency standards. GPS system time, in turn, is referenced to the Master Clock (MC) at the USNO and steered to UTC(USNO) from which system time will not deviate by more than one microsecond. The exact difference is contained in the navigation message in the form of two constants, A0 and A1, giving the time difference and rate of system time against UTC(USNO,MC). UTC(USNO) itself is kept very close to the international benchmark UTC as maintained by the BIPM, and the exact difference, USNO vs. BIPM is available in near real time.

The latest individual satellite measurements are updated daily. (Data format explanation.)

The best current measure of the difference, UTC(USNO MC) – GPS is based on filtered and smoothed data over the past two days.


GPS is at the present time the most competent system for time transfer , the distribution of Precise Time and Time Interval (PTTI). The system uses time of arrival (TOA) measurements for the determination of user position. A precisely timed clock is not essential for the user because time is obtained in addition to position by the measurement of TOA of FOUR satellites simultaneously in view. If altitude is known (i.e. for a surface user), then THREE satellites are sufficient. If time is being kept by a stable clock (say, since the last complete coverage), then TWO satellites in view are sufficient for a fix at known altitude. If the user is, in addition, stationary or has a known speed then, in principle, the position can be obtained by the observation of a complete pass of a SINGLE satellite. This could be called the “transit” mode, because the old TRANSIT system uses this method. In the case of GPS, however, the apparent motion of the satellite is much slower, requiring much more stability of the user clock.

Everything You Need to Know About Scanners and the Law

Radio scanners are used to find and translate frequencies that are being transmitted. The air is filled with radio signals of all kinds and a scanner is capable of tuning into them. Even the common radios that are installed in vehicles have a scanner. However, more advanced scanners exist that can access channels outside of the traditional news and radio stations.

This guide will only discuss and refer to the advanced models that are used for the purpose of listening to local emergency services, military, and government transmissions. The legality of tuning into these frequencies has long been a topic of confusion. Before discussing the legal issues associated with the use of scanners, it is important to first understand their history and how they work.

History of Radio Scanners

The very first scanners were controlled with crystals. Each frequency required one crystal so it got very expensive trying to tune into more than one channel. The scanners during this time only had around eight to twenty channels. It wasn’t until 1980 that RadioShack created a scanner with 300 channels and 10 scan banks. A scan bank has a range of frequencies within it. For example, local music and news stations are on one scan bank, while the emergency service transmissions are on a different scan bank.

How Radio Scanners Work

Radio scanners use a tuner that receives signal through antennas. The antennas may be internal, external, or even removable. The tuner directs which frequencies the scanner is picking up through the antenna. Once a clear frequency is detected, the signal is sent to the demodulator to be decoded. Those codes are then sent through the amplifier which converts them into sounds that the speakers can project.

The tuner can find the frequencies by scanning the radio waves in the area. Users can manually try to find a channel or the device can automatically scan through frequencies itself. It will stop and play the first complete frequency it finds. Some scanners also come with the preprogrammed ability to scan banks that certain agencies use.

The Legalities of Radio Scanners

The legality of using radio scanners varies. Certain frequencies have a much higher risk of running into legal problems than others do and sometimes there are gray areas within the law. It is very important to understand that every state has different laws regarding radio scanners.

The main concern with radio scanners is that they have the ability to pick up on more transmissions than people realize. Below are various frequencies that can be tuned into and how great the risk is to listen into them.



Cell Phones Highly illegal to listen to any cell phone conversations
Civilian Aircraft Lower risk because no confidential information is given over civilian channels
Coast Guard Listening into any military channel is a high risk because confidential information may be exchanged; military information that is confidential is not voiced over the radio unless it is coded; it is still a risk to listen in
Emergency Medical Services Medium risk to listen into EMS calls; legal issues may arise if a patient’s confidential information is given; FCC regulations prohibit this
FBI Listening to anything from the Federal Bureau of Investigation is an extremely high risk and could easily result in legal action; even non confidential information should not be listened to
Fire Department Medium risk for the same reasons that it is for EMS; fire related calls are okay to be listened into, but most fire departments respond to the same medical calls that EMS does; patient confidentiality is at risk
Ham Radio The ham radio channels are public; okay to listen to
Law Enforcement High risk of listening to calls between dispatch and law enforcement personnel; in most states, it is generally not illegal; there are many stipulations involved that can result in legal discipline
Local Commercial Companies Plumbing and construction companies may use a two-way radio system; not illegal to listen into those frequencies as long as the information is not abused
Marine Civilian boaters often use radios to communicate; low risk of listening to the channel; if boaters make a call to the Coast Guard, it could become a risk
Military Aircraft Listening to military transmissions is a risk especially if real missions or training missions are taking place
News Media Vans and Helicopters Low risk to listen to media vans and helicopters; risk of being sued if news information they gathered is released without their permission
Officials at Sporting Events No risk of listening to pit crews and the other sports members so long as the information is not used maliciously
Local, State, and Federal Agencies Any government agencies are a high risk to listen to; misuse of any information will result in legal action whether or not it was illegal to use the scanner
Security Officers Security officers guarding regular business are not a risk to listen to; if guarding hidden or government facilities, it is a very high risk to listen to them; buildings that are hidden or important are heavily guarded for a reason

Every state has different laws pertaining to each type of transmission channel. Never tune into anything that is not public without checking the local laws first.

Illegal Uses of Radio Scanners

When it comes to scanners and their legality, there are a lot of gray areas. However, there are certain laws that are nationwide. These are the illegal uses of radio scanners.

1. Listening into Cell Phone Calls

Older cell phones used analog FM frequencies that could be picked up by scanners if the scanner was modified to do so. In 1994, the FCC ruled that all scanners sold within the U.S. had to be “cell blocked.” This means that the manufacturer had to build the radio scanners with a block against scanning any cellular frequencies. This is obsolete now because new cellphones use digital signals instead of analog. There is no way for scanners to pick up on their frequencies without significant modification.

2. Intercepting Scrambled Communications

Some agencies scramble their transmissions so that they cannot be listened to. This is done to prohibit the public from listening to their channel. If the frequency is scrambled, it is illegal to listen to it. Some scanners are sold with trunking capabilities which allow them to unscramble transmissions. Buying, using, and selling scanners with the trunking feature is illegal.

3. Importing Scanners with Illegal Features

Purchasing radio scanners from overseas that have the ability to capture cell phone signals or to unscramble frequencies is illegal.

4. Modifying Radio Scanners

Modifying scanners to receive cell phone signals or encrypted frequencies is illegal.

5. Using Information for Personal Gain

Any time information is used to manipulate someone, defame them, or gain an advantage over them, it is illegal.

6. Using the Information to Commit a Crime

Listening in to channels to gain information which will be used for criminal acts of any kind is illegal. Giving others the information so that they can commit a crime is also illegal.

Shopping for Scanners on eBay

Advanced radio scanners are rarely sold in brick and mortar stores unless they are at a specialty radio communications store. Unfortunately, they are not very common. Many people prefer to just shop online because it eliminates the travel time and they can get the opinions of others on whether the scanner is good quality.

Legal radio scanners of all kinds can be found easily on eBay. There are thousands of products and accessories that shoppers can browse through. This allows buyers to compare prices, features, and the performance of the scanners. By shopping online, people can look up product reviews and make sure that past buyers have been satisfied with the scanners.

How to Purchase Radio Scanners on eBay

eBay has designed the site to make the shopping process simple and organized. To begin, go to the eBay website and click on the All Categoriestab. Find the Consumer Electronics section and click on Radio Communication. Next, select Scanners. This will list all of the radio scanners that are for sale, but this list can be narrowed down. You can choose Portable / Handheld, Base Station, or Mobile / In – Vehicle scanners. Keep in mind that in-vehicle scanners are illegal in many states.

Now you can choose the brands you are interested in, enter your price range, and select how much channel memory you would like. Narrowing down these preferences helps speed up the process of finding the perfect scanner. Once you choose some scanners that you are interested in, look to see if they have an available warranty, whether the warranty is free or entails an extra charge, how much the shipping is, and lastly, see what kind of feedback the seller is getting from past customers.


People enjoy scanners because it can be exciting and fascinating to listen in to agency and civilian transmissions. However, it is important to check on local laws before tuning in to any at-risk frequencies. In addition, people also have to be careful what they reveal about what they heard. They could unintentionally give away information that leads to a violation of privacy or a criminal act. Radio scanners should be used and enjoyed as long as it is in a legal and safe way. By using the information provided, people can find and purchase a radio scanner that is satisfactory as well as legal.

Wouxun KG-UV9D Multi-Band Two Way Radio



Experience Multi-Band excitement with the Wouxun KG-UV9D! This multi-modulation two way radio combines dual band transmission, 7 band reception and multiple feature options for multi-functional operation you won’t get with a typical dual band handheld radio!

The KG-UV9D transmits on 4 watts UHF and 5 watts VHF with multiple power settings. It features an impressive 999 programmable memory channels with QT/DQT encoding and decoding, DTMF encode/decode and 25KHz/12.5KHz wide/narrow bandwidth selection.

Dual Band Transmission

  • 144-148MHz VHF (FM TX)
  • 420-450MHz UHF (FM TX)

7 Band Reception

  • 76-108MHz (FM Radio)
  • 108-136MHz (AM RX)
  • 136-180MHz (FM RX)
  • 230-250MHz (FM RX)
  • 350-400MHz (FM RX)
  • 400-512MHz (FM RX)
  • 700-985MHz (FM RX)

The KG-UV9D operates on multiple levels to maximize the experience! It has true dual reception, so you can receive two signals on the same or different bands simultaneously. You can even transmit on one band while you receive on the other at the same time!

But its multi-function operation doesn’t end there. The KG-UV9D has multiple scan capabilites, as well. Priority scan, channel group scan, these are just a given. CTCSS/DCS scanning is a plus. Want a scan feature that’s really exciting? With it’s dual receive, the KG-UV9D can scan two bands at the same time. Now, that’s multi-functional!

Of course, we can’t forget the multi-display. First introduced with the popular KG-UV8D, the large, color screen is also a prime feature of the KG-UV9D, and with some notable improvements. Of course, there is still plenty of room to display all the information needed to operate a multi-function radio on both bands at the same time. Now the display is also adjustable, with five levels of brightness. Customize the settings for your viewing comfort while conserving battery power as needed. With the KG-UV9D in your hand, you are in control!

Speaking of control, check out Lock Mode. You can choose to lock only the keypad, lock the keypad and the encoders, lock the keypad and the PTT, or lock it all. It’s no longer all or nothing. Multiple lock options let you decide how your radio can be accessed, keeping you in control.

The KG-UV9D is also loaded with other features to make it truly multi-faceted! Three programmable side keys, sub-frequency transmission setting, Channel Name edit and display, Caller ID display, 76-108Mhz FM radio, SOS function, remote alarm, single-tone pulse frequency, reverse frequency, low voltage voice prompt, VOX (Voice Operated Transmit) for hands-free operation and a high illumination flashlight are all part of the package. And yes, like the 8D, the KG-UV9D has a stopwatch!

The Wouxun KG-UV9D comes with a 7.4v 2000mAh (14.8Wh) Li-Ion battery pack, belt clip, high gain antenna, stubby antenna, wrist strap, desktop charger, AC cord, owner’s manual and a one year manufacturer warranty from Wouxun.



Wouxun KG-UV9D Features

ACMA Emission Designators – Mobile Services

Information about Emission Designators can be found at Wikipedia.

The ACMA also publishes a document entitled “Emission characteristics of radio transmissions” which goes into further detail about the nature of the abbreviation.


The Break Down

9M40W7WEC can be broken down like this:

9 <- bandwidth: a whole number in Mhz, ie. 9MHz
M <- “MHz”
40 <- the next 2 least significant bandwidth digits, ie 0.40Mhz
W <- two or more modulation types from the set of {AM, FM, PM}
7 <- two or more digital channels
W <- “type info”, eg. F=TV video, but in this specific case W=”combination of other information types”.
E <- “detail of signals” E=”Multi-condition code in which each condition represents a signal element (of one or more bits)”
C <- “nature of multiplexing” C=”Code-division” F=”Frequency-division multiplex” T=”Time-division multiplex” W=”Combination of frequency-division multiplex and time-division multiplex”

The last two symbols are optional, their absence should be indicated by a dash (-) where each symbol would otherwise appear.


NextG 850MHz

    • 9M40W7WEC (9.4Mhz bandwidth)
    • 9M90G7WEC (9.9Mhz bandwidth)
    • 4M90G7WEC (4.9Mhz bandwidth)

4G 1800MHz

    • *W7DEW
      Note1: The bandwidth designator varies eg. 9M90W7DEW (9.9Mhz bandwidth 4G).
      Note 2: Dependent on location, Telstra is rolling out 10, 15 & 20Mhz bandwidth carriers)

4G 2100MHz

    • tba – Service unconfirmed
      Note: The Telstra Sierra 320U, with latest firmware supports 2100Mhz


GSM 900MHz

    • 8M40G7E (8.4Mhz B/W)
      The Optus GSM 900 band may be used for 900mhz 3G by ‘re-farming’ the 900 2G band for both 2G and 3G in some capital city locations – More Information

3G 900MHz

    • 3M84G7W (3.84Mhz B/W)
    • dual carrier assignments as 9M86G7W (particularly in the 2100 band)

4G 1800MHz

    • 10M0W7D– (10MHz B/W)
      Note: Optus does not have 1800 spectrum in every state

4G 2300MHz

    • 20M0W7W– (to be confirmed)
      Note 1: Optus are understood to be trialling 2300 4G in Canberra
      Note 2: At this time Optus does not appear to have a suitable 4G device for 2300MHz

Australian Phone Networks and Frequencies Explained

A phone that works on one network will not necessarily work on another. If you’re buying a phone from overseas, or planning a trip Down Under, be sure to check if your phone will function on Aussie networks beforehand.

Look up your device specifications and taking care to ensure any information you find is for the same country model as your phone. This can usually be done on a device manufacturer’s website.

Once you have the figures, you can compare them to the frequencies we’ll list below. The most important frequencies for you to keep an eye out for are: 700MHz, 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz.

Aussie carriers and networks

<span “”=”” “=”” class=”subdued”>(Calls & Text)
3G <span “”=”” “=”” class=”subdued”>(Calls, Text,
(Fast broadband) 
N/A 850MHz
Optus <span “”=”” “=”” class=”subdued”>
& Virgin Mobile

The three mobile networks in Australia are owned and operated by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. The numerous other service providers all work on one of these networks. These smaller telcos are called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and they resell access to the mobile networks. Typically MVNOs are smaller companies, with lower overheads, and can offer basic services at a cheaper rate.

Australian networks use the GSM standard. This is the same as most other countries, although some places like the US and Japan also rely on CDMA. If you have a CDMA-only phone you will not be able to access any of the networks in Australia.

Each of the major networks operates over its own set of frequencies. These often overlap, but do not always. Those listed above are the main frequencies utilised by each Australian carrier.

2G Shutdown

If you’re using an older phone, like a feature phone, you soon won’t be able to use it in Australia. Australia’s telcos are currently in the process of shutting down their 2G cellular networks. Telstra has already closed its 2G network, Optus is in the process of closing its 2G network, and Vodafone is closing its 2G network at the end of September this year. This will also apply to any MVNO powered by these telcos.

This can also be an issue if you have a dual-SIM device. Older dual-SIM smartphones were limited to 2G on the second SIM slot. This means that you won’t be able to put an Australian SIM into your secondary slot, but you’ll still be able to use it in your primary SIM.

Plans and trends

If you’re bringing a phone from overseas, or taking a phone between carriers, you’re probably looking at either a month-to-month, or prepaid plan.

Month-to-month, AKA ‘SIM-only’, AKA ‘BYO phone’, is a post-paid plan. This is because you pay at the end of the month, after you have been using the network. It’s like a contract plan, which are common in many countries, but your term is only one month long and there are no phone subsidies. Just make sure you check how far in advance you have to notify your carrier you’re leaving; some require a full month’s warning.

Month-to-month plans mean that you can’t run out of credit. You are given a monthly allocation of calls, texts (usually infinite) and data. Go over any of these and you will start paying excess usage fees, rather than being cut off. Don’t worry; Australian carriers are required to alert you via text at 50%, 85% and 100% of your usage cap within 48 hours of you reaching those markers.

Prepaid is a system that is used the world over. You purchase a certain amount of credit for calls, text and data in advance. Once these are used up, you have to pay more before you can access the network for those services again. Prepaid credit in Australia generally expires after 30 days, whether you have used it or not; some carriers have longer expiration periods, however.


Once wholly-owned by the government and now a private entity, Telstra is Australia’s telecommunications juggernaut. This telco has more than double the subscribers of #2 Optus and #3 Vodafone.

The commonly attributed to Telstra reputation for having superior network coverage and reception (which is often true, depending on where you are). The downside is that it also charges a premium for access to its network.

If you’re planning on doing a lot of rural travelling, then access to Telstra’s network may be advised, either through Telstra itself or through one of its MVNOs. If you are planning more of an urban stay then the other networks are equally valid as choices, depending on where you’re going.

Telstra also claims the fastest 4G speeds in Australia on its category 6 (CAT6) ‘4GX’-branded LTE-A network. That ‘mumbo jumbo’ means Telstra combines its 700MHz frequency with its 1800MHz (a process called ‘carrier aggregation’) to deliver even faster speeds. Of course, you need a 700MHz/1800MHz-compatible phone, as well as one that can handle CAT6, if you really want to see the benefits.

Many overseas phones do not have 700MHz support, although it is becoming more common; carrier aggregation is not built in to every device; and CAT6 is only just beginning to become a hardware standard in modern smartphones as of late 2014. Most cap out at CAT4. If you’re planning on signing up to Telstra because of its fast 4G speeds, make sure your phone is compatible first.

The two largest Telstra MVNOs are Boost Mobile and TeleChoice. These are restricted to 3G, but still offer Telstra’s fantastic far-ranging call and text coverage.


Australia’s second-largest provider, Optus operates it’s fast 4G services over the 700MHz frequency, as well as a few others. Plans offer generous inclusions including several with international calling minutes.

Optus continues to aggressively expand its rural and metro 4G and 3G networks in order to remain competitive.

Interestingly, Optus has also adopted what is known as TD LTE in some regions for its 4G. TD, or Time Division, is a different form of broadband than the more-globally-standard Frequency Division (FD) LTE. To function on a TD network, a device must be specifically designed for it. Currently, most Optus TD areas overlap with FD ones, so you can run your phone on either.

Canberra, on the other hand, relies heavily on Optus TD over the 2300MHz band. You may get a few dead spots in our nation’s capital, but there is also plenty of regular 4G reception to be had.

Optus is the only major network to sell 4G access to MVNOs. If you want super-cheap 4G in Australia, an Optus reseller is your best bet.


Vodafone in Australia is still recovering from a catastrophic public outcry from 2010, when its networks became overloaded and subscribers were left without reception. As such, it is left with a reputation of unreliability that is undeserved after so much time.

It’s been a long road, but Vodafone is making its way back in to the public consciousness. After focusing almost solely on strengthening its network for the last 5 years, Voda is in many areas as good as or better than Optus for 4G connections, although in rural areas Telstra is still king.

A large part of Vodafone’s return to the fore is its focus on big deals and special features. It is rare that this provider doesn’t have some kind of bonus promotion going.

Vodafone is currently in the act of re-farming its 850MHz frequency from 3G and turning it to 4G purposes in metro areas. 850MHz is a more globally-common standard than the 700MHz of Telstra and Optus, so phones from overseas are more likely to benefit.

Vodafone MVNOs are often some of the cheapest. While they are limited to 3G, if you’re after saving some cash while you’re down under then it’s worth giving them a look.