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VHF radio license changes

OFCOM are proposing to change the licenses they issue for yacht and handheld VHF radios such that a minimum distance between the antenna and 'the general public' will be enforced.

In short:

at 25W full power and on Channel 16, the minimum distance is 1.6m.

at 5W on Channel 16, the minimum distance is 0.71m

No issue for a yacht as the antenna is probably atop a mast taller than 1.6m. For handheld VHF radios, you would need to ensure that you are further away than 0.71m from another person when you broadcast.

Here is the notice from OFCOM:

Dear Licence Holder,

We are writing to make you aware of some important changes that we are proposing to make to your Wireless Telegraphy Act licence(s) issued by Ofcom.

In February and October last year, we issued two public consultations on our proposal to formally require licensees to comply with the internationally agreed levels in the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Guidelines for the protection of the general public from electromagnetic fields (EMF). We refer to these levels as the ICNIRP general public limits. In October, we also issued a Statement setting out our decision to formally require licensees to comply with the ICNIRP general public limits and we recently published an update on how we propose to implement that decision.

We are now writing to you to inform you of our proposal to vary the terms and conditions of your licence(s) to require you to comply with the ICNIRP general public limits. In accordance with the Wireless Telegraphy Act and your licence(s), we are giving you notice of our proposal by publishing a General Notice on our website.

We’ve put all the relevant information about our proposal including the General Notice on a dedicated EMF webpage Here you will find details of the licence variation process alongside the background to the changes and lots of FAQs to help you understand what our proposal means for you.

If, after reading the above information, you wish to make a representation to Ofcom in relation to our proposal to vary your licence(s), you have up until the 18 April 2021 to do so. However, if you do not wish to make a representation you do not need to take any action at this time. More information on the representation process can be found by visiting the Ofcom EMF webpage.

We will consider all representations before coming to a final decision on the variation of your licence(s). We will publish our final decision on the EMF page of our website by 18 May 2021. We will explain whether we have decided to vary your licence(s) to include the EMF condition. If your licence(s) has been varied we will send you an update of it or information on where a new version can be obtained from.

In future we intend to make greater use of General Notices published on our website and may not individually contact you to inform you that we have published one. We would therefore urge all licensees to regularly check the Ofcom website or subscribe to email spectrum updates by going to the following page on our website

If you have any questions about this change and what it means for you, further information can be found on the dedicated EMF webpage using the address provided above.

Yours faithfully,


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