Ofcom Licence Changes – Consultation Results

Ofcom Consultation - Sept 2014 Towards the end of 2013, Ofcom announced plans to change the amateur radio licence. This resulted in an Ofcom Public Consultation, and much discussion within the amateur radio community. Ofcom has today published the results of the public consultation, and what they propose to change.

Around 2000 replies were received, and here is a summary of what Ofcom is set to change to the amateur radio licence from January 2015:

What’s being changed:

  • Make the 470kHz and 5MHz bands available to Full licence holders without the need for an NoV
  • Make changes to allow a club to keep its callsign if the licence-holder leaves that club
  • Allow a licence to be revoked if the holder has been convicted of an offense under the Wireless Telegraphy Act
  • Changes to how often a callsign has to be given
  • Allow encryption, if requested by a User Service or when assisting with communications at a time of emergency
  • Some other minor wording changes

What’s not being changed:

The most controversial proposed change is now not going ahead. The proposal was proposing making the Regional Secondary Locator reflect the Main Station Address, not the place of operation. Currently, the station M6ABC when in Wales would use MW6ABC – and had the proposal gone through, the “W” would no longer be mandatory. In response to overwhelming feedback, Ofcom will not be making changes, and things stay as they are – a great relief for most amateurs, and well done to Ofcom for supporting the majority view

Use of callsigns

For us, this is the interesting one. Ofcom’s proposal was for the ‘identify every 15 minutes’ rule to be  be dropped and replaced with:

“the station be clearly identifiable at all times and that the call sign be transmitted as frequently as is practicable during transmissions.”

Only 330 agreed to relaxing the 15 minute rule, and 1350 disagreed with the proposal. Ofcom’s decided to make the change anyway, and it looks like the 15 minute requirement is set to be removed from January.

As a concession, a  note will be added top the guidance notes advising that best practice is “every 15 minutes” when operating voice or Morse code – at least that gives some guidance for those of us involved with training.

The Document and Comments

Ofcom’s statement can be found here: Updating the Amateur Radio Licence – Statement

This contains a list of amateurs who responded and had no objection to their names being published.

 

Next Steps

Notices will be sent to existing amateurs about the changes in January 2015, with a period of one month for objections. This is followed by a month for Ofcom to review representations, before a final announcement is made on the Ofcom website and the new licence made available.

New licences issues from January 2015 will have the changes built-in.

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