A simple guide to Radio Licensing in the United Kingdom.
All two-way radios in the UK are governed by Ofcom. Licensed two-way radios are used for business services like taxi companies, the military and the emergency services. These type of services need to have instant communication that is reliable and clear.
The emergency services for instance need to have their own frequencies that are secure and dependable, if they were dealing with a life threatening situation they would need to be able to communicate to ensure the situation is handled correctly.
The importance of having a license
License Free radios are available, but they have a limited number of channels, which are not secure; the lines are first come, first serve so there may be interference from other people nearby using the channels.
With licensed two-way radios you can pay to have your own channels through the Business Radio Area Defined (see below). Licensed two-way radios are generally more powerful and therefore clearer to communicate and will work over longer distances.
A business needs to make sure that they have the correct license. Not adhering to the licensing requirements would mean that Ofcom have the rights to stop your business from using two-way radios and as it is a legal requirement. If you do not have a license you are breaking the law and therefore can be prosecuted accordingly.
There are five different types of licences so prospective licensees need to ensure they apply for the correct one. The five different license types are as follows:
- Business Radio Area Defined – For those who need to work over large geographical areas like rail networks and transport networks
- Business Radio Technically Assigned- This license authorises the licensee to use a wide range of business radio equipment and they can choose from a wide range of frequencies
- Business Radio Simple Site – This license authorises the use of a base station and handheld radios. They are limited to a range of frequencies and must self-govern with other simple site users
- Business Radio Simple UK – This is for Business Radio Light licence classes. Businesses are limited to 15 different frequencies and it can only be used for hand held radios. They must also self-govern with other simple users
- Business Radio Suppliers Light- This license is a specialist license for those who service and repair radio equipment, hire out business radio and demonstrate business radio
Applying for a license
Applying for a license is straightforward. Prospective licensees firstly need to make sure that their radios fall within the boundaries of set by Ofcom, they can check this at http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/radiocommunication-licences/business-radio/.
You can then apply for a licence online at https://secure.ofcom.org.uk/busrad/, or alternatively download the forms from http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/radiocommunication-licences/business-radio/forms/ and return them to the Ofcom Licensing Centre. All licenses do have a fee and once this is paid Ofcom will send the prospective licensee their license.