Using a high frequency radio amateur transceiver

Amateur radio: more freedom to innovate

Published: 21 February 2024
Last updated: 21 February 2024

From today, amateur radio enthusiasts will enjoy greater operating freedoms under amateur radio licensing changes announced by Ofcom.

Amateur radio, sometimes known as ham radio, has been an important part of wireless communications for over a century. From time to time, Ofcom reviews our licence conditions to reflect changes in technology and how the hobby has evolved.

Last year, we set out how we planned to change amateur radio licences and policies, so they better meet the needs of current and future needs of the hobby. We received over 1,400 responses, and we would like to thank everyone who provided their input as part of this process. Following this, we published our General Notice of Proposals to vary all amateur radio licences in line with the proposed new terms and conditions.

After carefully considering representations made in response to our December proposals, we have decided to proceed with amending the licence, with some modifications in light of the submissions we received.

There are approximately 100,000 amateur radio licences currently issued by Ofcom in the UK. All of these are effectively varied as of today – meaning amateur radio enthusiasts can now operate under the new rules. The changes we are making to the licences include:

  • Updating the overall licensing framework. This includes allowing anyone to operate amateur radio equipment under a licensee’s supervision and making the process of getting and using a licence simpler and clearer.
  • Streamlining and modernising call sign assignment. This includes making the use of Regional Secondary Locators (RSL) optional, introducing the RSL ‘E’ for optional use by radio amateurs operating in England, and simplifying the license terms on the use of call sign suffixes.
  • Adjusting technical parameters. This includes increasing maximum power that radio amateurs are allowed to use in most frequency bands.
  • Providing clearer updated rules. This includes simplifying conditions to make them easier to understand and removing provisions not needed for spectrum management purposes.

Whilst the new rules apply from today, we will need to reissue all the licences and aim to complete this process by autumn 2024. We will shortly commence writing to licensees to provide each with their new licence document. We will contact licensees by email or post depending on their preferred method of communication. In the meantime, licensees can access the Amateur Radio General Licence Conditions Booklet from our website or contact us to request it in an alternative format.

Some elements of our December 2023 policy decisions will be implemented at a later date. We will update our guidance when these changes take effect.

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