Do I need a licence?
Radios come in two forms, licensed and un-licensed. Where a radio is referred to as a PMR446 radio these are unlicensed radios and therefore you will not need to apply for a licence from Ofcom. However radio etiquette should be considered when using these radios. The majority of radios used for business are licensed radios. The main advantages of licensed radios are that you avoid the risk of interference, people being able to listen in on your conversations which poses a security risk, and licensed radios offer a higher power output meaning coverage can be increased compared to licensed free radios.
Which radio licence is right for me and how much does a radio licence cost?
The main factors you need to consider for radio licencing are the mode of operation, physical location and whether your communication will be radio to radio (so not via a repeater base station) or via a repeater base station (a base station increases the coverage area of radios) Your radio supplier can advise on this.
The main types of licences are Simple UK Light, Simple Site Light and Technically assigned.
The information below is just a guide, please speak to Zycomm or Ofcom for advice tailored to your specific requirements.
• Simple UK Light (Formerly known as UK General) – This licence authorises the use of handheld or mobile radio equipment anywhere within the UK. The licence fee for this is £75 for five years. This kind of licence is the most popular for those using radios at no fixed location so is moving around sites within the UK.
• Simple Site Light – This licence authorises the use of a radio system operating a base station/repeater and Fixed Mobile Radios within a small area (such as a normal company site), typically 1km or less. Licensees have access to a range of frequencies and must self-coordinate with other Simple Site Light licences. The licence fee is also £75 for five years.
• Technically Assigned – This licence is a flexible licence that authorises the use of wide variety of business radio equipment. Licensees can choose between UHF & VHF with Ofcom then allocating the frequencies based on their technical criteria. These licence fees are calculated on the basis of several factors including size of coverage area and the popularity of the frequency band within your geographical location and typically ranges from £75 to £250 for a single channel assignment. This licence lasts for a year and needs to be renewed on an annual basis.
The other two types of licence are a suppliers licence (for example we at Zycomm have licences for hire radios) and Area Defined which is a bespoke UK wide licence which costs £9,900.
You can apply for a licence here https://secure.ofcom.org.uk/busrad/
How long will it take after my application for my licence to come?
Due to the popularity of licences it is best to assume a 4-6 week lead time from Ofcom. If time constraints mean you need communications on site before your licenses arrives then we can provide short term solutions to help you – please speak to our sales team for more details 01773 570123
What happens if I don’t get a licence?
Ofcom have the power to turn up on site unannounced to check compliance and may issue individuals with a caution or an immediate fine. Your communications may also be affected whilst any issues are resolved.
How long will my licence last for and what happens during Ofcom renewal
Ofcom will send a reminder for licence renewal typically two to three months in advance of your renewal date but to ensure a smooth transition we recommend the following tips:
• Always ensure that the contact details for the Ofcom renewal are up-to-date or use an email address that is read regularly by a group of people in case the person directly responsible leaves your company.
• Set a reminder for a month or so beforehand
• Keep your licence in a safe place and make sure people know where to find it.
Be aware that if you are late on your renewal your given frequencies may have been reallocated which would result in you having to have your radios re-programmed, an added unnecessary business expense.
Our Managing Director Ruth Nixon discusses Ofcom renewal in more detail on this video
The ‘which radio licence is right for me’ section in this blog talks about how long licences last for.
More about Ofcom
Ofcom is the regulator for the communications services that we use and rely on each day. Ofcom make sure people can continue to use communications services whilst being protected from harmful and offensive material, ensure people are protected from unfair treatment or having their privacy invaded and monitoring the radio spectrum so it is used in the most effective way
Radio advice from Zycomm
We can offer advice on a whole range of telecommunication and security queries, contact us here