Ofcom changes to amateur licences

Ofcom have published three documents about changes to amateur licensing. These confirmed almost all of the proposals outlined in the recent consultation. There are no immediate changes as Ofcom have a number of steps to go through but many should be in place by the end of February 2024.

Work will be completed in 3 phases. Ofcom are legally required to publish a General Notification that they will be making changes to licence conditions (already done), allowing a response period before licence conditions can change. Others changes such as new callsign ranges, require IT and administration system updates. We may be into 2025 before all changes are finally in place.

There are a large number of changes but the key ones are probably:

a) No more than one callsign per personal licensee (clubs can have 5). Licensees will keep the call for the highest licence level. If they have more than one at that level they’ll have to choose.

b) No more ‘2’ callsigns will be issued. The M8 and M9 ranges will be used instead. Existing ‘2’ licensees can change to an ‘M’ call.

c) Regional secondary locator letters (e.g. the M in GM3WIR to indicate operation in Scotland) will become optional

d) Callsign suffixes will become optional (e.g. /M) and can be anything that isn’t offensive, obscene etc.

e) Maximum power levels will increase for all licensees levels, although they are band-dependent:

Foundation – up to 25W (up from the proposed 20w as few rigs have a 20w limit).
Intermediate – 100W and
Full – 1kW

e) In a significant change from the original proposal to remove a condition which enabled 1980/90’s packet radio, a new Data Station mode of operation will be introduced. This is following a proposal by the RSGB. It will authorise a variety of data systems, primarily machine-to-machine operations. It will permit the use of APRS, UIView/Packet, data/trunk links, and RF mesh networks.

The three documents Ofcom published are

the 103 page full statement document outlining the changes and Ofcom’s reasoning for them

a key changes document and

the General Notice that licence changes are coming.

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