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Support & Help: Radio Licenses

Radio Licenses.

The following information is for guidance only and reflects our opinions.  For more detailed information please contact Ofcom directly.

There are 3 basic types of radio licensing you can choose.

Unlicensed PMR446:

The UHF 446MHz band was introduced throughout Europe when the old CB radio band got so overcrowded it became fairly useless.  The concept was to provide 8 “limited power usage” set of frequencies (channels) so that public users could communicate over a short range without purchasing a license.  By keeping the power low and limiting the range, the concept works well for building sites etc.  Unfortunately the range is extremely short (despite the fantastically exaggerated claims by some manufacturers!) Realistically you can expect ¾ mile average range.

“Simple UK” License: Currently £75 for 5 years (Per team, not per radio)

This is also known as a “Light License”

You have to purchase this from Ofcom. The license issues you a range of frequencies (channels) on the (UHF x 3) and (VHF x 5) bands.  These are not exclusive to you - the same frequencies are issues to all “Simple UK” license holders, so your radio supplier will usually add CTCSS tones which reduce cross-talk between different users on the same channel.

The advantages are that you can use much higher power radios and will not be interfered with by the public using standard PMR446 radios, but you may still have interference from other users issued with the same frequencies.

Fully Private License:

Ofcom can grant you an exclusive frequency, but this could cost cost you thousands of pounds per year. Again, apply to Ofcom


It’s a personal choice really.  UHF seems to work slightly better in built-up areas. VHF seems to work slightly better over open ground.

Analogue or Digital?

Digital radio transmissions are generally clearer, but there is no allowance for signal degradation, so if it goes a bit out of range, your connection will cut off completely.  Our personal experience is that the Digital radios don’t seem to have quite the same range as Analogue.

Analogue isn’t generally so clear, but when the signal fades, you can still hear it.

The above observations are just personal. If anyone has contrary information we would be very pleased to hear from you.