Innovation and trial licensing

09 March 2018

Ofcom aims to make it as simple as possible for you to gain fast access to radio spectrum, to conduct research and to develop and trial innovative wireless technologies.

Ofcom has a duty to ensure the optimal use of radio spectrum, the scarce resource that underpins the wireless and mobile services on which many citizens, consumers and businesses depend. Under section 154(2) of the Communications Act 2003 and under section 3(2) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006, Ofcom must have regard to the desirability of promoting the efficient management and use of the part of the electromagnetic spectrum available for wireless telegraphy, the economic and other benefits that may arise from the use of wireless telegraphy, the development of innovative services, and competition in the provision of electronic communications services.

Why the UK?

The UK is a world leader in the research and deployment of new technology and is building on this track record to be at the forefront of 5G deployment. The UK Government has launched a Testbed and Trials programme, with £41m of funding committed so far, to support its ambition for the UK to be a global leader in 5G, able to take early advantage of 5G’s potential.

In order to support 5G research and development, our Innovation and Trials licences allow:

  • Access to any frequency band (subject to coordination and availability).
  • Quick, inexpensive access to radio spectrum for wireless tests, with licences costing from £50.
  • The ability to run trial scenarios involving consumers, to help build an understanding of how 5G services could be used.

Update 5 September 2018: Innovation and Trial Licences in the High Frequency (HF) 5.9 – 26.1 MHz frequency range

Ofcom is now welcoming applications to test and trial international HF data communication links that operate in the frequency bands co-ordinated via Article 12 of the Radio Regulations, which covers seasonal planning of the HF bands allocated to broadcasting services between 5.9 and 26.1MHz.

Applications for innovation and trial licences will be considered subject to the normal non-interference, non-protection provisions. Successful licensees will be expected to take account of the HF broadcasting frequency schedules published by the ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau pursuant to Article 12. This is to prevent interference to international broadcasting services.

This new consideration of the HF bands is in line with the recent Fixed Wireless Spectrum Review Statement (PDF, 1.0 MB), where Ofcom indicated that it would further consider the HF bands with respect to potential international operation.

Innovation and Trial licences are issued on a non-permanent, non-commercial basis. Applicants should note that a successful application for an Innovation and trial licence is no guarantee of an operational licence in the future. For further details regarding Innovation and trial licences please see the guidance notes below.

Apply now

OfW225 Innovation and trial licence application form (PDF, 56.3 KB)

Technical guides

Innovation and trial licensing - guidance notes (PDF, 93.5 KB)

OfW84 - Guide to class of emissions (PDF, 56.4 KB)