Unlicenced Radios? Licenced Radios? How Does It Work?

What is a "Licenced Radio"? What About "Licence-Free" Radios? What's The Difference? 

Ofcom Radio LicencingIn the UK, most use of radio transmitters (walkie-talkies, vehicle radios, CBs, etc) requires a licence, issued by Ofcom.

Ofcom control who can transmit where, and on what frequency, to make sure that different users do not cause interference to each other.

This is especially important regarding "official" radio users such as police, emergency services, railways, military, air traffic control etc.

Radios that meet certain standards are allowed to be used without any licence.

For many walkie-talkie users, "licence free" radios will be fine. And if you do need a licence, it is not complicated or that expensive to get one.

Licence-Free Walkie-Talkies (PMR446)

These are basic, short-range walkie-talkies that conform to the EU-wide "PMR446" standard can be be used by anyone in the UK or EU with no need for any licence.

These type of radios are sold in High Street shops and at most radio dealers. 

Radios that meet this standard (usually called "PMR446" radios) can only have a power output of 0.5 watts, which means that their range is less than the more powerful licensable business walkie-talkies, that have power outputs of 4 to 5 watts. They all use the same 8 channels, which can sometimes cause problems if there are a lot of radio users on these channels in a given area.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE PMR446 LICENCE-FREE STANDARD

Licenced Business Walkie-Talkies & Other Radios

Use of more powerful radios (up to 5 watts for handheld radios, and up to 25 watts for vehicle radios and "base stations") requires some sort of a licence.

Licenced handheld walkie-talkies can have 5 watts power output, but "licence-free" PMR446 radios can only have ½ watt power output, so the licenced radios will have a better range and better signal penetration in buildings.

The "UK Simple" LicencE - "BASIC RIGHT TO USE THE MORE POWERFUL RADIOS"

This licence is effectively a licence to use the more powerful radios anywhere in the United Kingdom, using a set of frequencies that are shared by all users of this licence. This licence is quick and easy to apply for, costs £75 per organisation, and is valid for five years.

It is ideal for most users of business radios, and is the only choice for those who need to be able to use their radios anywhere in the UK.

Geographic Licence - "YOUR OWN DEDICATED FREQUENCY"

This licence gives you a specific frequency or frequencies allocated just for your organisation's use within a set geographical location. The cost of the licence varies from fairly cheap in most areas of the UK (around £100 per year), with the cost rising in major cities, especially London, where there is very high demand for radio frequencies (can be more than £500 per year).

Radios set to use a dedicated frequency like this must not be used outside of the licenced area, because the same frequency will probably have been allocated to someone else and you would cause interference to them.

UK Simple Business Radio Supplier's Licence - FOR RADIO EQUIPMENT SUPPLIERS AND HIRE COMPANIES

This is the type of licence that we hold, being a company selling and hiring radio equipment.

It allows us to do short-term radio hire using a set of frequencies allocated for radio hire companies, and also to provide "demo" radio equipment to potential customers using a set of allocated frequencies, and to carry out repairs to radio equipment.

When we hire out radio equipment, it is hired using our licence, so that the hirer does not need to worry at all about licencing issues.

Applying for Business Radio Licences

Applications can be made online at Ofcom's web site - click the logo below to go to Ofcom's radio licencing web site.

However, if you buy radios from us that need a licence, we will usually do the application online on your behalf, submit it to Ofcom for you, and Ofcom will then send you a request for payment of the appropriate radio licence fee.

 


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