Update (GB2RS): 3 -Feb-2017
Ofcom updated its licensing system for radio amateurs on 30 January.
Changes include the ability to request a Notice of Variation for standard special event stations; a verify my details button, which prompts users to confirm or update their personal details annually after login; a display showing the date your personal details were last verified; and some accessibility improvements with larger system icons.
It remains a licensing requirement to validate your details at least every five years.
Update (GB2RS): 19 -Aug-2016
Many UK radio amateurs will be aware that there have been problems with the new Ofcom licensing system. Following numerous complaints from members, RSGB Board members have been in almost daily contact with Ofcom senior staff. Unfortunately, we continue to receive complaints and the Society has become frustrated at the continued lack of progress.
The RSGB Chairman has therefore written to the Chief Executive of Ofcom, highlighting multiple shortcomings in the new Ofcom licensing system, and seeking a meeting at the most senior level to help Ofcom resolve their problems. RSGB will continue to keep the amateur radio community informed of progress.
Update: 12 Aug 2016
The Society has been discussing with Ofcom what many licensees see as problems with the new licensing system. Licensees have been issued with call signs that appear in call sign lists such as QRZ.com.
Ofcom have reaffirmed that none of the call signs issued by the new system is a duplicate. Although some of these call signs have been used in the past (which is why they could be found on QRZ.com or Hamcall.net), none has been authorised under a valid licence for at least two years. In fact, Ofcom made changes to the system on 3rd August, which were intended to ensure that call signs which were last used more than two years ago were also not recycled.
The Society challenged Ofcom on this, as they were receiving reports that some applicants were still getting recycled call signs, even after the 3rd August changes. Ofcom says that it has now loaded the past ten years’-worth of licensing records into its new licensing system. That means that if a call sign was last used more than ten years ago, the system may recycle it but that call signs used in the last ten years should not be recycled. We are urgently discussing with Ofcom how we might help develop a fuller and more comprehensive list, to reduce further the likelihood of recycling.
Although they don’t usually allow a call sign to be changed, Ofcom have said that, in the circumstances, if you find that the new system has issued you with a recycled call sign, you may request a replacement if you wish.
Ofcom have also confirmed that the requirement to revalidate licences at least every five years remains. At present the system does not provide an obvious way of doing this but this is being urgently addressed.
Previous Update: 5 Aug 2016
We have pressed Ofcom for an update on the two main problems that applicants and licensees have encountered with the new licensing system—the dedicated validation facility (which has disappeared) and recycled call signs.
Ofcom said that it remains a Licence condition to revalidate at least every five years. While the new portal doesn’t currently have a dedicated revalidation button like the old one, if you register on the new system, it will automatically update your revalidation date. Ofcom also said that in the future, they will introduce a feature to allow licensees to validate their licences easily and to check details when using the portal. In the meantime, if you contact Ofcom by phone, email or letter you can ask them to revalidate your licence and Ofcom will do that although they have asked us to mention that, like licensees, Spectrum Licensing does not yet have a dedicated capability to revalidate. However, they will note revalidation requests and process them over time. Ofcom has stressed that there is of course no question of a licence being revoked for not revalidating, if a licensee has requested Ofcom to revalidate the licence in this manner.
On the call signs, Ofcom confirmed that some applicants, who got a new licence and call sign from the system between 28 July (when the new system went live) and 8.00am on 3 August, may have received a recycled call sign. That means a call sign that has, at some time in the past, been issued to someone else. However, none of these call signs has been authorised under a valid licence for at least two years and Ofcom stress that they have not issued any duplicated call signs. All of the call signs issued by the new system are unique. Ofcom say that, if the new system has issued you with a recycled call sign, they will issue you with a replacement on request, if you wish. If you think that you may have a recycled call sign (for example because you’ve seen it on QRZ.com), you can contact Spectrum Licensing to find out. We pressed Ofcom to write to all affected licensees rather than to rely on licensees to contact Ofcom. Ofcom undertook to consider this urgently and they will let us know early next week what further remedial action they would be taking.
Ofcom Spectrum Licensing can be contacted by email at email@example.com.