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Radio, frequencies, power and the law


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I am looking for a radio. Now what I want is something that is PMR 446 legal so I can use it and talk to my team mates, but also can do 5W to a defined frequency if the site has a licence for something particular. Can such a radio even exist or do they always need to be two different radios? The PMR law suggests that they can't possibly be the same radio but I wanted to make sure that was the case.

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They can be the same radio and you can program them on your computer

 

The baofeng 888s can be done

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The radio needs to transmit at under 0.5W on the PMR446 frequencies to satisfy the letter of the law. Certainly the other common Baofeng set, the UV5 is at least 1W on its low power setting and I think the BF-888 is the same.

 

I believe on the programming software for the BF-888, you can only set high or low, not the specific power output.

 

I see arguments about these radios every time I look at an airsoft group on Facebook and I no longer respond there because there are a lot of airsofters using these illegally because they think they will never get prosecuted. They ask the question but dont like the answer. They are attracted by a cheap radio with high power but dont want to pay for a licence.

 

I know your circumstances are different which is why I have replied here.

 

If you are licenced for the higher power frequencies via the site, one could argue how would the authorities be able to tell whether you were transmitting on 0.5W or 1W on legal licence free PMR446. It would be impossible without testing your particular set on a power meter.

 

However, the legal answer to your question is: no the BF-888 or similar VHF/UHF 5W radio does not satisfy the PMR-446 requirements.

 

Also if you play on another site with no licencing arrangement, you might struggle to convince OFCOM if they did do a raid that you were operating legally.

 

In summary, for full legal compliance, its really two radios.

 

My thought on the subject: The answer is buy a Baofeng, get a licence for your team (£75 for 5 years I think it is) and just use the 5W private frequencies covered by your licence. Forget PMR446. The saving with the Baofeng compared to decent PMR446 more than pays for the licence.

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The reason I say PMR is because when attending a milsim event everyone is from different places so you end up relying on the basics of PMR as they don't have compatible licences. The BF-888S on low is above 2W, the UV-5R is 1W minimum. So basically I can't find a radio that really accomodates both, so I can use the sites licence for long range comms and PMR for the local group (although I suspect its not going to penetrate well enough anyway so it'll be basically useless).

 

Maybe what these milsim events need to do is licence some additional channels for the use of the teams, that way we can set up squad and section/fireteam comms with appropriate frequencies with some actual power to talk to each other behind them!

 

I did figure as much from my own research into the topic today but thought I better check. Considering the price of reasonable PMRs its just not worth it for what it will actually give me, its hand signal distance!

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Were mixing stuff here slightly. With the Okto milsim game, each of the three forces has a (different) high power licenced frequency to primarily talk back to the game HQ (different to their force base). As you dont want multiple players on the same team doing this (it would be pandemonium), we typically give each force CO one of our 5W radios operating on the given frequency and via his radioman, he communicates with game HQ.

In the game next month, more teams have their own Baofengs so they will probably use one of theirs as a force radio rather than loaning our Motorolas.

 

Now, if the players in a particular force then want to talk amongst themselves on a high power net, this is also possible. We can allocate another private frequency for this. However, it is rare for all of the team players to have the same band personal radio so there is no commonality.

So if all your fellow team players had a Baofeng or similar, then we could ussue them a suitable licenced frequency for PRR use.

 

From past experience, many milsim players only have PMR446 radios and some have nothing.

 

PMR446 is fine for a fireteam net. Where it falls down is where the fireteam is trying to talk back to their base when they are out on patrol. The PMR446 range of a couple of hundred metres or less in woodland doesnt cut it.

 

In an ideal world, people playing milsim would equip themselves with a 5W radio that enables them to be equipped with the relevant game channels, but milsimmers are a varied bunch.

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My thought on the subject: The answer is buy a Baofeng, get a licence for your team (£75 for 5 years I think it is) and just use the 5W private frequencies covered by your licence. Forget PMR446. The saving with the Baofeng compared to decent PMR446 more than pays for the licence.

 

Baz, any chance you could post a link regarding that team licence thingy from OFCOM - £15 a year to get more power over a larger site sounds good to me.

 

Cheers.

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Just going to give a specific read for all those interested, as I certainly was.

 

 

This is what Baz was suggesting.

 

Simple UK Light:
This licence authorises the use of hand-portable or mobile radio equipment anywhere within the UK. Base station use is not permitted. Licensees have access to fifteen frequencies spread across four Business Radio frequency bands and must self-coordinate with other Simple UK Light licensees. The licence fee is £75 for five years.

 

 

http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/radiocommunication-licences/business-radio/business-radio-faq/q18

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I had a read through it and I wasn't entirely clear what you can use the frequencies for. For example can you turn up on site, temporarily grant people on your team the same spectrum under your licence. The way I think its meant to work is anyone in your business can use it, so I assume all you can do is assign it to your frequent team members. I guess I am not 100% clean on what such a licence would grant you. I get a site using it and assigning them for use, that is the intended use, but an individual is a little different and has different use cases.

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You are paying for the right to access a specific set of frequencies and use a transceiver with an output greater than 0.5w. Those frequencies are not specific or exclusive to you and are shared with many other mostly professional users, so there is a huge potential for crossing over with legitimate professional radio users, such as shopping centres, hospitals, security, taxi firms etc.

 

In my opinion and specifically for airsoft, they offer no more benefit than the standard PMR446 channels, just you may legally use a higher power output.

PMR offer you a defined standard set of channels than everyone can simply access with very cheap equipment, and the reality is that at airsoft ranges, you are rarely going to be sprawling huge distances that 0.5w become ineffective, even in dense woodland.

 

If you do find yourself outranging .5w its likely to be at a big organised event, where the chances are the requirement for a wider radio net, will already be handle by someone who legitimately knows what they are doing.

The more complex you make it, the more chance you have of pissing people off. Unintentionally dropping in on a command level channel to tell your teammates there is a sniper in a tree, is not good drills.

 

From what you have said you need, I would recommend a simple cheap PMR446 set (Clicky) If you do eventually find yourself needing access to more bespoke frequencies a UV5r will do everything you need and a lot more.

 

Always remember the KISS principle, (google it)

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