Cleveland RAYNET Group
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PBR (Private Business Radio) is the modern term for what some people may remember as PMR (Private Mobile Radio). The name was changed when the distinction between "private" and "public" became somewhat blurred. If your company or organisation wants a radio network to link mobile employees and/or office employees, you can buy or rent PBR radios.
Ofcom issue PBR licences to local government authorities, small businesses, public limited companies and unincorporated registered charities. Ofcom will only send the licences to the registered address of a limited company or public limited company, not to a local branch office.
The PBR licence covers the radio transceivers, not the people who use them. Each radio needs a licence which is usually renewable each year. Some are renewable every three years.
The radios can be used by any employee and also by any member of any other organisation or by any member of the public who is authorised by the licence holder (e.g. by company managers).
This could mean that in a particular situation, an Ambulance Service paramedic could loan a radio transceiver to a member of the British Red Cross Society and vice versa. It could also mean that a police officer could loan a police radio to a local government Emergency Planning Officer.
When you apply for a PBR licence, you must state the nature of your business. The licence authorises the radio equipment to be used for that purpose and no other. In other words, if you own a parcel delivery company, then the PBR radios can be used for any purpose in connection with that business. They can't be used by another company for other business purposes and they can't be used by employees for other purposes such as recreational use.
There is no such thing as a licence to receive PBR transmissions. If you like the idea of listening to businesses' or other organisations' radio transmissions, you can't buy a licence as they don't exist. You will be committing an offence. You may have your radio equipment confiscated and may also be punished by the criminal court system by a fine or even imprisonment. A company using a licensed PBR system can authorise anybody to listen to their radio transmissions. If you have received permission, you can listen to that company on those PBR channels. If you haven't, you can't.
Virtually all radio licences are only for the possession, establishment and use of type approved radio equipment. You can only use the "correct" type of radio which was made to a particular specification and only with the "correct" type of aerial and on the "correct" channel frequency. This is the law, as enforced by Ofcom to limit the range of the equipment to an approximate distance and to limit interference to other users of the radio spectrum.
If you have a radio licensed for 10 Watts of effective radiated power, it includes the type of aerial which can legally be connected to it. If the radio was designed for use in a vehicle and with a normal roof-mounted aerial, you can't legally connect the radio to a SuperSkyZoomer Mark 9 aerial on a 30 foot mast. The height gain and aerial gain of a SuperSkyZoomer Mark 9 (whatever that is) will increase your radio range but will have an effective radiated power of much more than 10 Watts e.r.p.
Most PBR licences are for a maximum of 10 Watts of effective radiated power. Ofcom may issue licences for up to 25 Watts e.r.p.
Most PBR radio channels are shared with other organisations. There aren't enough radio channels to give each company, ambulance service, local council or taxi firm their own individual channels. Where possible, PBR channels are shared with other organisations which are many miles away, to limit interference.
When Ofcom issue radio licences, they have records of the location of every licensed radio user in the UK and try to allocate radio channels so that businesses are outside the radio range of others.
Ofcom will allow the use of a voice privacy system such as frequency inversion or rolling code inversion. You must provide Ofcom with details of the method and the algorithms used.
A cynic may say that the internet will produce decryption software for any commonly available voice scrambling system, thus making speech scramblers almost a waste of time except as protection against casual listeners.
A wide area PBR licence is very common and typically covers up to 30 km (19 miles) from a given location which is often a hilltop base station. In 2005 there were 333,131 mobiles with such licences in the UK.
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Page updated on 09 January 2017