26 May 2022

Helping the amateur radio community to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee

We’ve recently played a part in helping the UK’s passionate amateur radio community to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s forthcoming Platinum Jubilee – and it all comes down to one letter of the alphabet.

Every amateur radio user in the UK needs a licence from Ofcom, and under their licences we assign each user a unique identity, known as a call sign. We also have to keep an eye on how these call signs are formatted, to make sure they meet global rules on how radio is used.

On occasion, when we’re asked to, we can vary these licences temporarily, to allow radio amateurs to use specially amended call signs – these are often requested around moments of particular national interest.

So, last year, when radio amateurs asked us if they could do something special, to mark this year’s Platinum Jubilee, we immediately agreed. We’ve therefore given special permission for radio amateurs to apply for a special 'notice of variation' allowing them to insert a 'Q' (to represent the Queen) into their call signs throughout June. This is to mark the Platinum Jubilee.

What is a radio call sign?

As amateur radio transmissions can be received around the world, it’s important to know who and where they’re from. We therefore give each radio amateur a unique call sign, which they must use when they transmit. This tells anyone hearing their transmissions that it’s a UK amateur radio station (our call signs all start with ‘2’, ‘G’ or ‘M’) and identifies the individual station.

What previous special call signs have been used?

This isn’t the first time we’ve given permission for amateur radio operators to use a special change to their call signs, to mark national celebrations.

  • In 2011, we allowed the letter ‘R’ to mark the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
  • In 2012, we allowed the letter ‘O’, to mark the Olympic Games.
  • In 2012 and again in 2020, we allowed the letter ‘Q’, to mark Her Majesty’s earlier Jubilees.
  • In 2018, we again allowed the letter ‘R’, to mark the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
  • In 2020, we agreed that radio amateurs could add the suffix ‘/NHS’ to their call signs, in recognition of the work of the NHS during the pandemic.

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