Amateur Radio

These are frequently asked questions about the practice of amateur radio in general

How do I become a licensed amateur radio operator?

Full information is available on the Getting Started pages and Becoming an Amateur FAQ.

How do I register to get my lifetime licence?

Go to Ofcom’s Online Licensing Services web page https://services.ofcom.org.uk/register. Fill in the online form, you will then be issued with a user name and password. This will allow you to log into Ofcom’s licensing service and apply for your lifetime licence (which will require re-validating at intervals of not more than 5 years).

How often do I have to re-validate my lifetime licence?

At intervals of not more than 5 years, or if your personal details change (such as name and address). To re-validate, log in to https://services.ofcom.org.uk/ and amend any details as soon as possible, this will automatically revalidate your licence.

If you have not yet registered to use the Ofcom Online Licensing Service you will need to do so in order to access your licence online. When registering for the first time you will need to have details of your lifetime licence number, which can be found on page 1 of your 23 page Licence document.

Who do I contact to renew my lapsed licence?

A. You need to contact Ofcom, asking for an OF346 application form, or download it from http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/spectrum/amateur-radio/apply-for-a-licence/of346.pdf.  Please note that Ofcom will only permit a licencee to hold one Full Licence.  If you wish to renew a Full Licence that has previously lapsed you will be required to surrender a current Full Licence if you hold one.

How do I report abuse on the air?

You can report this to the Amateur Radio Observations Service (AROS). You can contact AROS via e-mail to aros@rsgb.org.uk

How do I apply for a special event station callsign?

You can download the application form from Ofcom’s website http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/spectrum/amateur-radio/apply-for-a-licence/ofw287.pdf and then post it to Ofcom.

Are special event station callsigns available for Foundation or Intermediate licence holders?

Ofcom’s rules are that SES and SSES callsigns are available to full licence holders only.

Where can I get advice on Antenna Planning issues?

You can find details on the RSGB website on the Planning Advisory Committee page, where you can also send questions to the RSGB planning committee direct.

How do I apply for a Repeater or Packet Node?

Full details for applications can be found on the RSGB ETCC committee at its website http://www.ukrepeater.net

Where do I find information on Repeaters and Packet Nodes?

Full details are on the RSGB ETCC committee website, http://www.ukrepeater.net

How does my club inform RSGB of up-and-coming events for RadCom and GB2RS?

Send your info to radcom@rsgb.org.uk. This covers RadCom and GB2RS. The deadlines are printed in RadCom at the start of the “Around Your Region” section.

What is the e-mail address for GB2RS?

gb2rs@rsgb.org.uk

How can I subscribe to GB2RS?

Go to Update your personal or club membership information and ask us to add you to the mailing list.

Where do I find the latest rally information?

Refer to a recent edition of RadCom or check out the RSGB Events Site.

How do I tell RadCom about my rally?

Send an email with details to radcom@rsgb.org.uk. This covers both RadCom and GB2RS. The deadlines are printed in RadCom at the start of the “Around Your Region” section.

I have interference problems—where can I get advice?

Go to the EMC Matters pages, and if the advice does not help, feel free to contact one of the EMC Advisors who can be found on the EMC Technical Advisors page.

Where can I get general technical advice?

Either join the RSGBTech forum (at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rsgbtech/) where you will find people able to help, or contact your local Regional Manager
(see the Regional Team pages.)

I’m interested in contests. Where can I find more information?

Go to the Radio Sport pages.

Do I need an amateur licence to transmit video from my model aircraft?

Airborne transmissions are specifically prohibited in all UK amateur radio licences.
The official information on radio controlled models is at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/spectrum/information/licence-exempt-radio-use/licence-exempt-devices/ofw311. Section 11 of the page discusses amateur radio, airborne operation and licence exempt video transmission. When we checked in January 2014, airborne transmissions were legal from compliant equipment (see links from ofw311) operating on the 5.8GHz band with a maximum power of 25mW EIRP. The best technique is to use a medium gain receiving aerial (10dBd or more) and a sensitive receiver; a range of around a mile should be quite possible. Further useful information about legal First Person View (FPV) video can be found at http://bmfa.org/Info/ModelFlyingTypes/FirstPersonView(FPV)/tabid/256/Default.aspx  (link checked August 2014).

Is it true that Ofcom will be compelling Foundation and Intermediate Licencees to progress to the Full Licence?

Ofcom have issued a statement to the Society making it clear that it is not their intention to discourage people from the hobby and, whilst they want to set up a framework that encourages those interested in pursuing the technical hobby to stretch their knowledge and operating skill, they won’t be designing a regime that leaves or pushes people out.

What is the timetable for the Licence Review?

Ofcom have indicated that they will be publishing their proposals for consultation during June 2014. Any changes to the Amateur Radio Terms and conditions will not be enacted until the Autumn of 2015. Full details will be published in RadCom and on the RSGB website.

Some of the operating on HF DX is disgraceful—what is the RSGB (and IARU) doing about it?

Whilst not a new subject it is an extremely difficult one with which to deal. The RSGB’s work internationally started at the IARU General Conference in 2002, with further efforts in 2008 and more recently in 2011. Our efforts to put more of an enforcement culture in place in 2008 were met with little support and some strong resistance from Belgium and Austria. We did though get the DX Code of Conduct recognised at the 2011 General Conference and more recently, with one of its authors as Chair of the RSGB Board are developing and seeking to enforce it more for the DXpeditioner. This is because it has been observed that well run pile-ups suffer from far less DQRM.
The Society is submitting a paper to this year’s IARU conference seeking a new approach to tackling this issue. This paper was developed following consultation with amateurs via our website forum.

Whilst one can understand the reluctance of other national societies to adopt an enforcement culture, the past five years have shown that the education approach adopted by the IARU in 2008 has not addressed the few who are determined to disrupt the enjoyment of the many. National administrations like Ofcom and the judicial systems that are their final recourse to sanction can only deal with the most serious cases, so there is an important message for the amateur community to understand which is that we need to do much more to address this problem within the amateur community.

Ofcom has recently proposed allowing UK amateurs access to 146-147 MHz as part of their VHF Spectrum Release—what is this about?

Ofcom announced in 2012 that there would be VHF spectrum available from the Business low, medium and high-bands. Ofcom has started with 143-156 MHz seeking innovative ideas firstly through a “Call for Input”, in August 2012, followed on 24 March 2014 by a public consultation on proposals that arose from this enquiry. Clearly, we can’t offer a commercial benefit from pitching for more spectrum around 2m, so after discussion within the RSGB Spectrum Forum we sought it on the grounds of being able to re-plan to an extent the existing allocation and at the same time experiment with innovative narrowband DATV, in-building communication for RAYNET applications, separation of analogue and digital repeaters and increased spacecraft applications.

Our response to Ofcom’s “Call for Input” was published on our website and little comment has resulted. Hopefully, opening up an additional MHz on this band, along with an intention of aiming much of its usage toward experimentation will kick-start a resurgence of interest in VHF and UHF. We hope that members will support the Society’s pitch in 2012 and respond accordingly to Ofcom’s consultation and ultimately through some new projects, focused on the new allocation, undertake some technical innovation and experimentation.

What is the position on 2.3 and 3.4 GHz? What is the RSGB doing to protect these frequencies?

This question refers to the release of parts of the microwave spectrum by MoD for reuse by mobile network operators for the new 4G mobile standard. Ofcom have managed this activity under the title of the Public Sector Spectrum Release, or PSSR. Ofcom have confirmed that the release will be in the bands 2350-2390 MHz and 3410 – 3480 MHz where we have secondary status with the MoD, and also 3500-3580 MHz, which is not allocated to the amateur services.

Throughout the process the RSGB and other groups such as the BATC have had a very constructive engagement with Ofcom. That has been crucial to ensuring that the authorities and MoD understand our own usage/interests. As a result of this lobbying Ofcom has, this week, give us 12 month’s notice that we will need to vacate both 2350-2390 MHz and 3410-3475 MHz, but that we can continue to operate in the adjacent bands (2310-2350 MHz, 2390-2400 MHz and 3400-3410 MHz). The band 2400-2450 MHz that includes ISM and and the AMSAT/ISS usage is unaffected.

As part of the release the MoD have to make changes to their own use of the microwave spectrum that will impose some new restrictions around a few MoD sites at St Kilda, Aberport and Boscombe Down. We have been working through Ofcom to minimise the impact on these new restrictions. In Ofcom’s announcement this week they have detailed specific arrangements for this continued sharing on 2310 – 2350 MHz, which comes into force immediately.

In order to support users we will also assist in providing online technical advice as well as continued support by ETCC on frequency change clearances that may affect ATV repeaters.

What is the position on 5 MHz? Are we ever going to get a proper band?

The current arrangement whereby Full Licence holders have access to 11 channels or frequency segments of varying width is likely to be incorporated into our revised licence following Ofcom’s Licence Review. It is a national arrangement on the basis of non-interference to primary users in the UK and other countries. We have been reminded of this in the past week as Ofcom have alerted us to the likelihood of increased usage on and around the 5 MHz channels by the MoD; UK amateurs are requested to be especially careful to check that the frequency is clear prior to calling CQ, etc.

In parallel with this arrangement there is a related agenda item for the 2015 ITU World Radiocommunication Conference, which is known as WRC-15. This could decide to leave matters as they are, that is without any allocation to the amateur service near to 5 MHz in the ITU Radio Regulations, or it could either grant some channels or a small band. Preparations for this conference started in 2012 and have been strongly supported by the RSGB. Talks take place in two forums—an ITU working group and within CEPT. Strong opposition has come from the Russian Federation and also the French to an amateur service allocation near to 5 MHz. The IARU, supported by the RSGB, is working hard to try and gain a supportive position from CEPT ahead of WRC-15. We are very grateful to expertise, given on a voluntary basis, by members and RSGB officers who are involved in these time consuming and complex negotiations.