Radio Spectrum
Saturday, 28 April 2001
If you use radio mics or radio talkback systems, you should be aware of the Radiocommunications Agency’s (RA) latest consultation document on Spectrum Pricing.

For most in the industry, there’s good news in that the cost of licensing is to be reduced - a result that didn’t seem likely when the first consultation document was released. A study published by Smith Nera on spectrum pricing, based on its calculation of the value of radio spectrum, would have made one radio mic channel worth about £80,000. However, following reaction from contractor JFMG and several users at the earlier stage, another round of consultation was announced. If all goes to plan, the technicalities of licensing will be simplified too.

Once the policy is adopted, a block of frequencies, such as UHF Channel 69 frequencies, would cost £75.00 per year. JFMG hopes that the price reduction will increase the number of licences issued to users. Plans are already being made for the analogue TV switch-off, and mobile phone companies - apparently with limitless funds - are looking for more available spectrum.

The company is taking steps to increase the number of licence applications and now has a section working on licensing development. The aim is to educate users on the need for licensing. In the last few months, engineers from JFMG have visited a number of theatres, identifying some common problems along the way, including the use of unlicensed frequencies, the hiring-out of equipment without a hire licence, and the use of channel 68 without a licence.

If you are unsure about licensing, contact JFMG or look at its website. Essentially, there are five VHF frequencies that were made licence-exempt last year and there are some low-power UHF frequencies (not channel 69) that are also licence-exempt. Anything else needs a licence.

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