Interference to amateur radio

Published: 10 July 2023
Last updated: 10 July 2023

Interference to amateur radio is normally caused by:

  • electromagnetic disturbance from apparatus or installations;
  • poor immunity or receiver selectivity;
  • multiple users using the same channel at the same time in close range (congestion); or
  • unlicensed use of wireless telegraphy apparatus.

Read more about the causes of interference.

What you can do

Before contacting Ofcom, we urge radio amateurs to seek advice from the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB). The RSGB website contains detailed guidance on how to mitigate against interference. See the RSGB guide to electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).

The RSGB can help radio amateurs and others who might be affected by problems which occur within the amateur bands, or which develop on other frequencies as a result of amateur transmissions. Email:

How we can help

In exceptional circumstances, we may investigate interference to radio equipment where we’re satisfied that:

  • the interference is ‘harmful’;
  • it is outside of your control; and
  • all reasonable steps have been taken to minimise the effect.

We may send out an engineer to investigate. However, you might be liable for the cost of the investigation if we find that the criteria above have not been met.

What is harmful interference?

An electromagnetic disturbance or noise is not in itself ‘harmful’ interference.

Interference to radio communications is harmful if:

  • it creates danger, or risks of danger, in relation to the functioning of any service provided by means of wireless telegraphy for the purposes of navigation or otherwise for safety purposes
  • it degrades, obstructs or repeatedly interrupts anything which is being broadcast or otherwise transmitted by means of wireless telegraphy and in accordance with a wireless telegraphy licence, or a grant of recognised spectrum access or otherwise lawfully.

It is unlikely that Ofcom would investigate a report of interference that is not regarded as ‘harmful’. It's not our policy, and we don’t have powers to do this effectively.

Report interference

Before reporting interference to us, you should:

  1. log all incidents for at least a week with the time, date and station or apparatus affected;
  2. establish that the source of harmful interference is not within your control (for example within your own property);
  3. make sure the affected station or apparatus is functioning correctly.

Contact us for advice and assistance, or complete our interference to amateur radio form.

Reporting disruptive behaviour

Generally, Ofcom does not have the power to regulate the content of radio communications. But if you are a licensed radio amateur, you can complain to us if someone is playing music, deliberately occupying channels, or engaging in any other form of antisocial behaviour that harms your hobby or causes personal distress.

If the allegation includes threatening, abusive or insulting words, you should contact the police. If the police make a specific request, we will assist their investigation.

Under the Wireless Telegraphy Act, Ofcom can vary (or even revoke) a licence if necessary. This means we can vary an amateur radio licence to manage harmful interference.

It is illegal to use apparatus to deliberately interfere with wireless telegraphy, or for any reasons except those specified in your licence or licence exemption regulation.

Ofcom will consider investigating complaints that amount to deliberate interference (or ‘jamming’) or unlicensed use of equipment. We will only investigate if we are satisfied that it is reasonable on public interest grounds. When deciding whether or not to investigate, we will consider:

  • the number of people affected;
  • whether alternative means of communication are available;
  • the duration of effect;
  • how feasible it is to detect the source; and
  • how desirable it is to take enforcement action (i.e. whether we would ultimately prosecute the offender).

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