Facts About Licence-Free Radios

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The use of radio transmitters, and the VHF or UHF frequencies they operate on, is governed, licensed and co-ordinated by Ofcom in the UK. This includes two-way radios.Two way radios can operate on either licensed or unlicensed frequencies. Licence-free radios (also called PMR radios) are very popular, so let’s look at them in a bit more detail.

Licence-free two way radios
These are generally lower powered, handheld radios with a maximum power output of 0.5 watts, resulting in a shorter range. Depending on the surrounding terrain, the range can vary from between a few hundred metres in a built up area to a few kilometres in open ground.
You can use licence-free radios for either business or personal use on any of eight UHF frequencies, both in the UK and across the European Union.
Licence-free two way radios (also commonly known as PMR446 radios for the frequencies they use) are manufactured with the frequencies already programmed in.
Power sources can vary, from basic models which use AA cells to more advanced models which use Li-ion rechargeable packs.

Benefits of a licence-free radio
  • Less expensive than licenced radios
  • Easy to use
  • Pre-programmed radio frequencies
  • No call charges
  • No contracts
  • Rechargeable versions give good operating time
  • New digital technology has improved voice quality and performance
  • No licence required!
  • Operate throughout the UK and in most EU countries

Disadvantages of licence-free radios

Lower power, so their range is shorter (approximately 3km maximum)
Their popularity means the channels can often be congested
Not suitable for emergency use as channel usage is on a first-come-first served basis
If users are too far apart they may suffer interference from other two-way radios within range

Who might use them?
There is a huge range of possibilities for the use of licence-free radios, for example:
  • Construction workers
  • Event managers
  • Hotel and tourist attraction operators
  • Neighbourhood watch co-ordinators
  • Factory workers
  • Farm and country estate workers
  • Leisure use (hiking, cycling, camping, orienteering, shoots etc.)

The actual PMR 446 frequencies
For those of you who want to get right down to the nitty gritty, here are the actual eight PMR 446 frequencies in the UK which are used for licence-free radios.
446.00625 MHz 446.01875 MHz
446.03125 MHz 446.04375 MHz
446.05625 MHz 446.06875 MHz
446.08125 MHz 446.09375 MHz
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