16/11/2015

Ofcom consults on Walkie Talkies, Level Crossings and DECT phones

Ofcom, the Super Regulator, is holding a consultation on Licence Exemption of Wireless Telegraphy Devices.

Walkie Talkies or as they're officially known as Private Mobile Radio (PMR), are allowed to operate in license exempt status in the band 446.0 - 446.2 MHz. Previously this was split into to bands, 446.0 - 446.1 MHz for Analogue PMR446 equipment and 446.1 - 446.2 MHz for Digital PMR446 equipment.

Ofcom is proposing to make the whole band available for both analogue and digital PMR446 equipment, whereby: -

  • the band 446.0-446.2 MHz for the use of analogue PMR 446 with a channel plan based on 12.5 kHz spacing where the lowest carrier frequency is 446.00625 MHz
  • the band 446.1-446.2 MHz for the use of digital PMR 446 with a channel plan based on 6.25 kHz and 12.5 kHz spacing where the lowest carrier frequencies are 446,103125 MHz and 446.10625 MHz respectively
  • the band 446.0-446.2 MHz for the use of digital PMR 446 with a channel plan based on 6.25 kHz and 12.5 kHz spacing where the lowest carrier frequencies are 446,003125 MHz and 446.00625 MHz respectively as of 1 January 2018
  • analogue PMR446 equipment operating in the frequency range 446.1-446.2 MHz should use more robust receivers as specified in ETSI TS 103 236 or equivalent technical specifications

This would allow any device to transmit max 500mW while NO fixed basestations are allowed and the maximum transmit time would be 180s, This would all come into effect in Jan 2018.

Ofcom also wish to change mandated exclusion zones around radio astronomy sites for level crossing radar to that of co-ordinated exclusion zones i.e. level crossing radar in the exclusions zones could be used with the coordination of the Radio Astronomy sites. The methodology, decision and appeal processes to determine whether a device can be deployed in the coordination zone is to be agreed between the rail network operators and the Radio Astronomy service.

The current exclusion zones are

SiteNGRExclusion zone
Jodrell BankSJ 79650 5095020 km
CambridgeTL 39400 5400020 km
DeffordSO 90200 44700 20 km
DarnhallSJ 64275 6226520 km
KnockinSJ 32855 21880 20 km
PickmereSJ 70404 76945 20 km

DECT equipment has been license exempt for a number of years, operating in the band 1880 to 1900 MHz. Currently the document exempting the equipment states that a handset connects to a basestation and it is proposed to just change the to a short range device (SRD) to make it more applicable to handsets that aren't connected to the telephone network.

Stakeholders wishing to respond may do so using Ofcom's on-line form.

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