Ofcom Amateur Radio

Amateur Radio

Amateur radio, sometimes known as ham radio, is both a hobby and a service that uses various types of radio equipment allowing communication with other radio amateurs for the purpose of self-training, recreation and public service.

Reform of amateur radio licensing

1.1 This Ofcom statement sets out our new approach to the licensing of amateur radio.

1.2 It follows on from Ofcom’s consultation on amateur radio licensing that was launched on 26 May 2005.

1.3 As a result of the consultation, Ofcom has decided to implement the following reforms:

  • To issue lifetime amateur radio licences which will remain valid for as long as the licence details remain correct or until such time as the licence is either revoked by Ofcom or surrendered by the licensee. There shall be no end date on the amateur radio licence. Such licences will be personal to the licensee and will not be transferable.
  • To provide an online, web-based, self-service licensing service as an alternative to the postal service.
  • To issue electronic licences (probably PDF® (-1-) documents) to users of the online, web-based, self-service licensing service. Users of this service would print a hard copy of the licence which must be kept at the main station address.
  • To continue to make paper licences available (but subject to a small administrative charge).
  • To modify the original proposal by requiring licensees to validate their licence details at least once every five years in order to maintain their lifetime licence.

1.4 At present the Radio Licensing Centre (RLC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Mail Group plc, processes amateur radio licences. However, it is Ofcom’s intention that from 1 October 2006 (the intended implementation date), all amateur radio licences will be issued by Ofcom. Licences issued, renewed or amended on or after the implementation date will be subject to the revised licence terms and conditions (above).

1.5 Any licences which are due to expire before the implementation date must be renewed by contacting the RLC. Licences issued, renewed or amended before the implementation date will be subject to existing licence terms and conditions.

1.6 Ofcom believes that the new approach to amateur radio licensing will reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and cost associated with this important hobby. Ofcom regards the amateur radio community as a key radio spectrum user group and wishes to see amateur radio prosper.

1.7 This policy statement summarises the views expressed during the consultation, provides Ofcom’s response to these views and sets out our decision regarding the future of amateur radio licensing. The statement also summarises the results of the research carried out by MORI and describes how this has been balanced against the views expressed during the consultation process.

1.8 The 12 week consultation closed on 18 August 2005. Ofcom received 1,466 responses during the consultation period, many of which were in favour of Ofcom’s key proposals although the majority were in favour of maintaining the existing licensing regime but with a proposed extended renewal period of five years.

1.9 In addition to the consultation process, on 26 May 2005, MORI sent a questionnaire and accompanying material to 4,500 amateur radio licence holders. The survey sought licensees’ views on Ofcom’s proposals and also gathered other information such as membership of societies.

1.10 MORI received 1,572 completed questionnaires by the closing date of 20 June 2005 which showed that when licensees were asked specifically whether they supported or opposed Ofcom issuing licences that remain valid for the life of the licensee, 58% claimed to support this move.

1.11 Ofcom has carefully considered representations about the proposals that it has received from stakeholders. Each consultation response was considered with equal weight, regardless of whether the response was attributed to an individual or organisation, published anonymously or submitted as a confidential response.

Ofcom – Reform of amateur radio licensing