In the UK there are three types of licences which would influence which frequencies you would want to select.

  1. De-regulated (Licence-free / Free to use)
  2. Shared Licence (Best for roaming systems)
  3. Co-ordinated Licence (Best for fixed installation)


Note: Licences are issued and regulated by OfCom, the official governing body within the UK.


To decide which licence-type is best for you, please consider the following:


De-regulated / Licence-Free

Frequencies: 863-865 MHz (TV Channel 70)


Within the UK, anyone with an RF device that conforms to the licence-free standard is able to use these frequencies.  This includes garage fobs, baby-monitors as well as other wireless microphone systems and any others.  As the devices within this spectrum must be low-powered, it is likely that the spectrum will be clear enough to use without any issues - but it doesn't come without its risks.


Advantages

  • Free to use
  • Covers up to 4 channels


Disadvantages

  • Interference is possible
  • Transmission power is restricted to 10mW (low power) for handheld transmitters, which may affect transmission distance, or audio quality if direct line-of-sight between transmitter and receiver are not always guaranteed.
  • Only allows for a maximum of 4 channels within the spectrum


Shared Licence

Frequencies: 606-614 MHz (TV Channel 38); 823-832 MHz (TV Channel 65)


These frequencies are reserved for 'PMSE' use, which basically means that these frequencies can only be used by other wireless microphone or media users.  This greatly reduces the risk of interference of other users (although does not guarantee a business/hotel/house of worship next door won't be using them at some point).  It also covers up to 10 channels with one licence, and covers you throughout Great Britain so you can take your wireless systems around with you.  This is particularly good for touring, or if you're not certain exactly where the location that you're going to set the wireless up in is, as there should be no other major users within these frequencies (unless you're around other wireless microphone users, etc).


Advantages

  • One licence covers up to 10 channels
  • You can use the same licence wherever you go
  • Frequencies are reserved for PMSE users only
  • Chances of interference are reduced


Disadvantages

  • The licence is quite costly up-front (although you can purchase biannually to reduce costs)
  • There is still a small possibility of interference, particularly at larger events/venues (festivals, etc)


Co-ordinated Licence

Frequencies: 400 - 700 MHz (excluding 606-614 MHz)


A single licence only covers one channel in one location (you register one specific frequency to a postcode/location).  If you want to use multiple channels, you need to buy multiple frequencies.  As you start to fill a TV Channel, you can reduce cost by buying the full channel.  This guarantees that no-one else in your area is able to use the same frequency, and your frequency is blocked from DTV signals or other White Space Devices to ensure that you have the best transmission in your installation.  It is possible to buy 2-day licences so that you can use these for festivals/events, however as the DTV spectrum varies considerably across the UK, it is not possible to guarantee a specific band that's available in one location will also be available in a different location, so your device may not work if you travel to a different location around the country.


It is possible to see which frequencies are available in your area, and we recommend checking your area and other areas you are likely to travel to to determine the best set of frequencies that would be best for your application.  To do this, go to the OfCom PMSE Website (You may need to register).  Once you're logged in, go to the 'Post 700 MHz Mic/IEM Location Planner'. Once you have the available frequencies on hand, you can also cross-reference these with the available channels in the wireless system you have selected.  If you need any further advice, or need help, you can either contact OfCom's PMSE division in the UK, or contact your local Audio-Technica Office for further advice/assistance in your local area.


Advantages

  • Guarantees an interference-free transmission
  • Low cost per frequency (great for fewer channels)


Disadvantages

  • Can become more costly as you increase the number of channels needed.
  • Licence is for a fixed location only, and not all frequencies are available in all locations.
  • Frequency co-ordination is much more important - although your local Audio-Technica office can assist you with this.


Making your selection

Once you have selected which licence-type you want, it is now much easier to select your frequencies/frequency band


It is also possible to mix-and-match; for example, if you want 5 frequencies in a fixed location, you could use up to 4 channels in the deregulated channel and top-up with the co-ordinated licence to keep the cost low and guarantee that you always have 1 channel that will be interference free.


When ordering your wireless, you can quote the licence-type that you wish to order (de-regulated, shared or co-ordinated), or how many channels you wish to have in each licence-type (keep the maximums in mind for deregulated and shared).  If you choose co-ordinated, please either quote the frequency ranges that are available in your area, or the postcode where the systems will be used, so we can determine the best frequency band for you.


If you still have any questions, please contact your local Audio-Technica Office for further assistance.