Protecting and managing the airwaves

We use wireless telegraphy every day to communicate over the airwaves, including voice messages, data, remote control, navigation (GPS) or using radar to find the location of objects.

The use of wireless telegraphy apparatus is regulated by the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. Radio apparatus can only be used under the terms, provisions and limitations of a licence. Many common uses of radio apparatus, such as listening to AM/FM radio, using a cordless phone and operating a remote control model, are exempt from requiring a licence.

The regime aims to secure efficient use of the spectrum and to manage interference by separating users in terms of geography, time and frequency.


Ofcom does not guarantee interference-free spectrum because there are many possible causes for interference beyond our control, such as natural atmospheric conditions.

Interference is normally caused by:

  • the unlicensed use of radio apparatus
  • electromagnetic disturbance from apparatus or installations or
  • a fault or deficiency in the affected station or apparatus.

Use the links on the right to find out more about the causes of interference to specific devices, and how to resolve them.

Anyone using electrical apparatus is responsible for ensuring that it does not cause harmful interference to others. If this happens, we may require the user to rectify the situation. Find out about our approach to spectrum enforcement.

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