Do I Need an Ofcom Business Radio Licence?

Another popular two way radio faq is, do i need an Ofcom radio licence? Yes, you will need an Ofcom business radio licence if you have licenced two way radios. Licence-free two way radio walkie talkies do not need a licence as they operate on the 446Mhz frequency which is exempt. Below we explain Ofcom licencing in more detail.

There are many different types of Ofcom Business Radio Licences within the UK. A full detailed list can be found on the Ofcom website here. When it comes to business radio licences, two-way radios can be split into 2 categories. Licence-free, (sometimes referred to as PMR446, unlicenced or non-licenced) and licenced business radios.

Licence-Free Two-Way Radios

Manufacturers pre-program their designated licence-free products with a power output of 0.5 watts. These radios can only be programmed on the 446Mhz UHF frequency. This means that as a user of these radios you can use them anywhere within the UK without having to own an Ofcom Business Radio Licence.

Licenced Two-Way Radios

If you purchase your own licenced radios, then you will need to purchase an Ofcom Radio licence. The typical Ofcom Licence you will apply for will either be a Simple UK Licence or a Simple Site Licence. Another factor will be how big the range the  two way radios will communicate over.

Ofcom Simply UK Light Licence

Ofcom provide a licence with a set number of frequencies and signalling tones that you can program into your two-way radios. This licence will share the same frequencies and signalling tones as any other user who hold a Simple UK Light licence. The cost is £75 for five years

Ofcom Simple Site Light Licence

If your business is operating in static location, such as a factory, then Ofcom will issue a licence to cover that premises or perimeter of the site. The licence will allow you to choose a range of frequencies shared with other users of this type of licence. This should in practice allow you to utilise a frequency not used by anyone else next to your given site location. Typical, the maximum distance covered is up to three kilometres. The cost is £75 for five years.

Simply UK and Simple Site Licence Application Time Frame

You are able to apply for and have the above licence types issued immediately online by logging into the Online Licensing System.

High Congestion Areas

It is worth noting that high congestion areas such as London, may not have any available frequencies available for your preferred frequency of radio. Typically in built up areas, UHF frequency is preferred as it transfers through building structures better than VHF, however there are not as many UHF frequencies available as there are VHF, so they may only be able to offer a VHF frequency. We would therefore recommend applying for your licence, wait to see which frequency band is allocated before you purchase any two-way radios.

Ofcom Technically Assigned Licence

This licence is for users who wish to have a particular frequency assigned to them within a stated coverage area. Ofcom will usually analyse the frequencies used local to your site and then issue a frequency ‘unique’ to you and your site. This can be particlualry important on petrochemical oil and gas sites that use atex certification products as privacy will be paramount. Coverage can range from one to one hundred kilometres depending on the customer’s requirement. The price is based on the location and the number of frequencies. The cost ranges from £75 to £1480.

Ofcom Area Defined Licence

This licence allows you exclusive use of a frequency within a defined area. This area can encompass a 50km2 map square, a country or you can choose to operate the frequency across the United Kingdom. The price is based on the area you wish to cover and your choice of frequency. The price can range from £75 for operation within a map square, to £9900 for UK wide operation of a 12.5kHz duplex.

Technically Assigned and Area Defined Licence Application Time Frame

Ofcom is unable to issue licences immediately or take payment via the Online Licencing System for the these licence types. Once your application has been processed, the Ofcom Spectrum Licencing Team will send you an invoice and, when payment has been received, issue a licence. If a two-way radio supplier is completing the application on your behalf, they can pay the licence fee on your behalf and then simply invoice you accordingly.

Ofcom Business Radio Licence Fee Guide

To get a better understanding of the Ofcom Business Radio Licence fees, click here to view the Ofcom fee guide. It is worth noting that there is no VAT to pay on your licence fee.

Our Thoughts

If you purchase licence-free two way radios then you do not need to consider any of the information here. However if you purchase licenced two-way radios then we would always recommend contacting a two-way radio supplier to discuss your options. If you are going to buy two-way radios from a supplier, then they will often complete the required Ofcom Business Radio licence application for you free-of-charge. If you only require a supplier to complete the Ofcom licence on your behalf then there will nearly always be a service charge for the completion of the application.