Why we license spectrum
Spectrum frequencies are a valuable resource.
Licensing helps us:
- prevent interference
- keep access to spectrum frequencies fair
- make sure spectrum frequencies are available to public services
Categories of licences
There are 3 categories of radiocommunications licences:
You may apply for an apparatus licence to operate certain types of:
There are 16 transmitter licences. A licence to operate a transmitter will let you use certain equipment at a specific location or within a geographic area.
Your licence may be:
- an assigned licence
- a non-assigned licence
There are 5 receiver licences. These are assigned licences. You can licence a receiver to prevent interference by having an assigned frequency.
You need to pay a fee to get an apparatus licence. We usually give them for 1 year and you can opt to renew.
To apply for an assigned transmitter or receiver licence, contact an accredited person.
For a non-assigned licence, you can apply to us. Choose the licence you need from the list of apparatus licences. Then, download the application form on the relevant licence page.
A class licence lets you use common radio equipment on shared frequencies.
There are 15 class licences.
Each licence has rules about the type of equipment you can use, and how you can use it. These rules aim to prevent interference to you and other users.
You do not need to apply for a class licence and there are no licence fees.
A spectrum licence lets you use a range of radio devices in a specific:
- geographic area
- frequency band
Spectrum licences may be valid for up to 15 years.
We usually auction spectrum licences. Organisations consider them assets.
If you hold a spectrum licence, you can also trade it (or parts of it) with others.
Use someone else's licence
You may be able to use someone else's licence if you wish to access a radio frequency.
Search the Register of Radiocommunications Licences to see who owns a licence in the area or frequency you need.
You can then contact the owner who may be able to:
- share their frequency with you
- trade part of their spectrum allocation with you
If you use someone else's licence, you must follow all the rules of their licence.
They will also need to tell us that they have let you use their licence.