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How does the Ofcom License Work?


Leah
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Hello, I bought an Ofcom license in March 2020 for the ability to use radios while playing Airsoft. However, it has been unused since lockdown. I'm now trying to get back into Airsoft, but I cannot remember how the license works.

I have the option of using one of multiple bands all on a 12.5 kHz bandwidth. These include: Low Band (77 MHz-86 MHz), Mid Band (164 MHz-164MHz), High Band (169 MHz-173MHz) and UFH1 (449MHz-458MHz). I'm assuming that means I can use any of the frequencies listed? But i'm not 100% certain on that - plus I'm not sure what band is best to use? We use UV-5R radios.

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14 hours ago, Chev Chelios said:

I am assuming you have the one you just fill in and pay £75 rather than completing the 6hr foundation course? 

 

Hi, that's correct. I never did a foundation course, maybe I would know this stuff if I had lol.

 

I never got as many frequencies as you just showed me. I got 17 in total across all of the bands.

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I guess most if not all of the radio users in airsoft will be on PMR446. Which is the license free walkie-talkie 16 channels.

If you are running the £75 business radio license, you will be on totally different channels from the PMR446 and any person will also have to shell out the £75 and have their radio also programmed to tune into your particular channel. Which seems totally unnecessary unless you really really want to stop most people from listening in.

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1 hour ago, Pseudotectonic said:

I guess most if not all of the radio users in airsoft will be on PMR446. Which is the license free walkie-talkie 16 channels.

If you are running the £75 business radio license, you will be on totally different channels from the PMR446 and any person will also have to shell out the £75 and have their radio also programmed to tune into your particular channel. Which seems totally unnecessary unless you really really want to stop most people from listening in.

 

I'm pretty sure yourself and your friends/company/org are covered under the same license. So you wouldn't all have to spend 75GBP

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2 hours ago, Pseudotectonic said:

I guess most if not all of the radio users in airsoft will be on PMR446. Which is the license free walkie-talkie 16 channels.

If you are running the £75 business radio license, you will be on totally different channels from the PMR446 and any person will also have to shell out the £75 and have their radio also programmed to tune into your particular channel. Which seems totally unnecessary unless you really really want to stop most people from listening in.

 

1 hour ago, Leah said:

 

I'm pretty sure yourself and your friends/company/org are covered under the same license. So you wouldn't all have to spend 75GBP

The guidance notes via the link below would generally cover airsoft users as a team (under incorporated association of people with a common interest) or an individual.

An individual won’t have much use of a radio channel.

But under either you can have handsets configured to an appropriate channel and let some extra people use the same channel to talk to them for the day under your licence (you could hand them a handset from your collection, let them Programme in your frequency, or as there are common frequencies which others may be licenced to use just agree on the one to use today - and conversely to use different ones so you are separate)

 

 

 

Incorporated Association
Is a group of people who share a common interest.

Individual or Sole Trader
Any person may apply for a licence in his or her own name. If the person runs a business solely in his or her own name then that person is known as the sole proprietor of that business. Legally that person is wholly liable for all aspects of that business and all its obligations. Thus the person will need a WT Act Licence in their name to operate a radio system which states the applicant/ licensee’s name. If the person holds a trading name, then this may also be stated on the licence but it is important that this is not substituted in the place of the individual’s name.

 

Off topic as the OP already has a licence but PMR is the easy solution with free to use  unlicenced channels, and again can be used together or seperately among groups (I used to set PMR ranges between factions and let them pick particular channels ….. and I could then be nosy and listen in with the very old fashioned cheap handsets that could pick up all the subfrequencies)

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Ok I just checked the actual Ofcom wording and you may be right. (On the license it says "the Licensee and any person authorised to act on the Licensee’s behalf is hereby authorised to send and receive...") Although I would argue if you are the licensee you should also technically own the entire fleet of radios that you authorise other people to use.

Although in reality I don't imagine it is at all policed/enforced unless someone is seriously messing about using your license prompting some sort of action by Ofcom. At which point you the licensee will also be responsible (if you are ratted out).

For frequencies, you can use any of the frequencies listed on your license. Among the ones you listed the UHF frequencies (4xx Mhz) will be most practical because the same antenna will work for PMR446 so your baofengs can be set up to access both sets of frequencies. So you can play with walk-ins if they can't or don't want to reprogram.

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13 hours ago, Leah said:

 

I'm pretty sure yourself and your friends/company/org are covered under the same license. So you wouldn't all have to spend 75GBP

 

Leah, how many UV-5Rs do you see kicking about? These are illegal to transmit on PMR as the equipment is not permitted to transmit over a maximum power of 0.5 watts, even on low power they transmit more power than is legal in the UK for the PMR446 allocation. Even it it was 0.5 watts they have a removable antenna and that excludes them being used on PMR. The ones I have don't even carry CE Marks. 

 

I would never advise anyone to break the law but do your own research and I think you will come to the same conclusion as me, that nobody cares if you are using "business radios" with or without a licence or using high power radios to transmit PMR.  

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If you can find an airsoft site in the UK where the staff / marshals aren't using UV-5Rs or equivalently powered sets on PMR frequencies and channels, I'll be astonished.

 

One thing I keep coming back to is that if you're not sure what you're doing with regard to frequencies, then sticking to the PMR bands means that you won't interfere with anything important in the real world, even if you're running "with your boots on" as we used to say a thousand years ago in the CB era.

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11 hours ago, Chev Chelios said:

 

Leah, how many UV-5Rs do you see kicking about? These are illegal to transmit on PMR as the equipment is not permitted to transmit over a maximum power of 0.5 watts, even on low power they transmit more power than is legal in the UK for the PMR446 allocation. Even it it was 0.5 watts they have a removable antenna and that excludes them being used on PMR. The ones I have don't even carry CE Marks. 

 

I would never advise anyone to break the law but do your own research and I think you will come to the same conclusion as me, that nobody cares if you are using "business radios" with or without a licence or using high power radios to transmit PMR.  

 

Which is the reason I bought the Ofcom license, so I don't have to transmit on the free frequencies? or am I misreading something here.

23 hours ago, Tommikka said:

 

The guidance notes via the link below would generally cover airsoft users as a team (under incorporated association of people with a common interest) or an individual.

An individual won’t have much use of a radio channel.

But under either you can have handsets configured to an appropriate channel and let some extra people use the same channel to talk to them for the day under your licence (you could hand them a handset from your collection, let them Programme in your frequency, or as there are common frequencies which others may be licenced to use just agree on the one to use today - and conversely to use different ones so you are separate)

 

 

 

Incorporated Association
Is a group of people who share a common interest.

Individual or Sole Trader
Any person may apply for a licence in his or her own name. If the person runs a business solely in his or her own name then that person is known as the sole proprietor of that business. Legally that person is wholly liable for all aspects of that business and all its obligations. Thus the person will need a WT Act Licence in their name to operate a radio system which states the applicant/ licensee’s name. If the person holds a trading name, then this may also be stated on the licence but it is important that this is not substituted in the place of the individual’s name.

 

Off topic as the OP already has a licence but PMR is the easy solution with free to use  unlicenced channels, and again can be used together or seperately among groups (I used to set PMR ranges between factions and let them pick particular channels ….. and I could then be nosy and listen in with the very old fashioned cheap handsets that could pick up all the subfrequencies)

 

I'm not sure which one I got to be honest. I may try contacting Ofcom tomorrow, it does say this in my License Document:

 

2. Purpose of the Radio Equipment
2.1 Subject to the administrative and technical requirements set out in this and the subsequent schedule(s)
to this Licence, the Licensee and any person authorised to act on the Licensee’s behalf is hereby
authorised to send and receive messages concerning the business of the Licensee between the mobile
stations.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Leah said:

Which is the reason I bought the Ofcom license, so I don't have to transmit on the free frequencies?

 

Yes, and you're doing the right thing, even if pragmatically speaking, there are no consequences for (ab)using the PMR channels at higher power.

 

You should have a Simple UK Light licence, which allows use of any of these frequencies.

 

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0036/79965/Business_Radio_Simple_UK_licence_template.pdf

 

image.png.d07fad97922f33e4b9b2e9fabce10be2.png

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43 minutes ago, Rogerborg said:

 

Yes, and you're doing the right thing, even if pragmatically speaking, there are no consequences for (ab)using the PMR channels at higher power.

 

You should have a Simple UK Light licence, which allows use of any of these frequencies.

 

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0036/79965/Business_Radio_Simple_UK_licence_template.pdf

 

image.png.d07fad97922f33e4b9b2e9fabce10be2.png

 

Yup, that's the exact table I have I believe. I'm going to contact them tomorrow (if I have time + remember) to see if I have the sole trader or organisation license, as I believe I need the latter - hopefully I do already :S

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1 hour ago, Leah said:

to see if I have the sole trader or organisation license

 

As far as I can see, it's the same licence, Simple UK Light, and as @Tommikka noted above, you'll ideally have applied as an "Incorporated Association [...] a group of people who share a common interest".

 

It's commendable that you're concerned about following the letter of the law.  However, if you have any sort of licence, you'll already be ahead of many-to-most airsofters using non-PMR sets.  And if you stick to the UK light frequencies (or PMR), and use it a typically remove airsoft site, the likelihood of anyone ever noticing, or caring, or requiring you to show that licence is vanishingly small.

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8 hours ago, Leah said:

 

Yup, that's the exact table I have I believe. I'm going to contact them tomorrow (if I have time + remember) to see if I have the sole trader or organisation license, as I believe I need the latter - hopefully I do already :S

On a practical basis it’s not going to make much difference whether you signed up as a sole trader as yourself or a group as an association.

 

 

e.g. If I signed up naming an association as the team TFD for gameplay and game organising - then it would be the team li licence covering all members plus on any particular day I can hand radios to hangers on that are playing with us or helpers with running a particular game

 

Or if I signed up under my photography as a sole trader IWAC it would only be my licence - but I could have helpers that I want to use it for the day

 

Note that I have neither - we have considered it but have stuck to PMR and existing site systems.

 

Good enough for our purposes and the only time we have had range issues with PMR it was also due to terrain which also affected more powerful licenced site raidios, which we work around by relay and/or mobile phone


Again not relevant to the licenced OP….We also have someone in comms who would not mess with OfCom - as above ‘sensible’ law breaking won’t be found out and ‘nobody’ cares, other than those like my teammate who would care about being caught with particularly reputational damage to him professionally 

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