Innovation and trial licensing

Published: 29 July 2020
Last updated: 16 March 2023

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.

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.

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