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PMR (Private Mobile Radios)

FS120503

(Published Oct 2021 replacing version June 2020)

Private Mobile Radios (PMR) are a useful event and activity communication tool in Scouting.

How can we get communications facilities?

There are 3 ways to go about it.

1) Scout Communications Teams – some Scout Active Support Units exist to provide support with the communications at events. Talk to your ACC Activities to see if your County or a District or Group within your County provides this service.

2) Buy your own set of radios. There are further details about this, including how to get a licence to use these radios, later on this page.

3) Hire your kit from communication specialists. You can find details via recommendation or searching online.

How much does it cost?

A Communications Team (Regional, County or District) may have equipment valued at tens of thousands of pounds so that they are able to supply a wide range of facilities to the Scouts. These teams in general are self-financing and ask for a donation towards the cost of maintenance and renewal.

The cost of purchasing radio equipment, which conforms to the correct standards, is within the budgets of most Counties or Districts. The cost of a single hand portable or mobile radio set can be from about £150, but battery chargers, spare batteries and other accessories can add another 25% to this figure. In addition, there is an annual licence fee and a budget for maintenance should be provided to ensure that equipment does not fall into disrepair and become an expensive unused facility.

Why radio use needs to be regulated?

Radio frequencies are in great demand, and uncoordinated use can cause interference to other users, both Scout and other organisations (we do not have exclusive use of the channels). Interference can have serious consequences for safety of life. Improper use may also interfere with the conduct of business or cause annoyance to the private individual.

Because of this, it is illegal to use radio transmitters in the UK except under licence issued by Ofcom. Unauthorised use of equipment which requires a licence is illegal and could mean immediate termination of use, a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment on summary conviction. Or, for conviction on indictment, an unlimited fine, two years imprisonment and the forfeiture of the equipment.

Licensing

If you get your own radios there are a number of licensing options depending on your requirements.

The Scouts holds a Simple UK Business Radio Licence from Ofcom, and the simplest way for members to license their radios is to use this licence. Full details are found in the Terms and Conditions document, the main restrictions on a Simple UK licence are:

The following frequencies can be used:

  • Use of CTCSS tones and DCS codes is allowed.
  • There is a maximum permitted ERP for mobile stations of 5 watts.
  • The use of base stations or masts is not allowed.
  • The use of repeater stations is not allowed.
  • The use on vessels other than on inland waters, rivers and canals is not allowed.

If your proposed usage of your radios does not fit within these restrictions there are other licences that you can apply for that will be more applicable. Please note that these applications should be made to Ofcom directly, not The Scouts.

For using a mast or base station:

Suppliers Light Business Radio Licence

For using a mast, base station or repeater at a specific site (ie activity centre):

Technically Assigned Business Radio Licence

For use on vessels at sea:

Ship Radio Licence

Read the full details of each of these, including how to apply.