Can I use a pair of Motorola GP340 UHF radios as leisure walkie talkies without a licence in the UK?

We plan to use em on cycling trips or roadtrips/tours with our band. Do we need a licence in the UK? What happens if we use em without a licence for no more than a few hours per month at most?

Officially you need a licence - it costs £75 for 5 years. Available online - BUT - frequencies are limited and you need somebody to programme them if you don’t have the cable and software. Mind you, you could discover they already have the right frequencies in them if they work with each other?

If you don’t have a licence then almost certainly nothing will happen at all, IF, and only if the frequencies programmed in are not in use wherever you go. If you go somewhere where they are in use and blot out the ground frequencies the local airport are using, or interfere with the small radios the Fire Service use for radios on the ground in a fire, then the implications are pretty obvious. OFCOM prioritise interference to essential services, but if they are on the frequency being used by some groups of people who legitimately should be there, expect at the least interference and at worst a posse of people turning up, having enlisted Facebook to mobilise people to find you. In practice of course, if you are somewhere like a small city or town, little will happen - if anything. Doesn’t;t make it right though. If your band play venues or events run by Councils (as mine does) occasionally you’ll get an officious caretaker or technical manager ask to see your licence - rare, but we’ve had it happen twice, but we are legally OK. However - Motorolas are normally treated because of their price, as something only licensed people have, so it’s unlikely you will go to prison - nobody cares IF and only if, they’re on safe channels. Do you know what they are operating on?

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Thanks for the quick response!
And you were right, the radios were already paired on the same frequencies. I have no idea which frequencies though as the programming cable and software I got doesn’t seem to work on my Windows 10 laptop, nor on my friends laptop who claims to be specialised in IT.
I’m happy with the way they work and their range and I’m actually contemplating buying a third GP340 and programming it using a “clone copy cable” on offer on eBay from China.
I’m a bit suspicious though and wondering if these clone copy cables really work as the only one I could find available for purchase online is from a seller in China and the cable only had one review from someone claiming they had bought it and it worked. Are you by any chance familiar with these cables that alegedly clone information from one radio (the master radio) to another radio (the slave radio)?

Here’s the eBay link for the clone cable:
(link removed - please read forum rules)

These radios are inappropriate for your needs. The GP340 is a business radio that can only legally transmit on the frequencies assigned to the company who licenced them, and - even more important - within the geographical area assigned to that company. By using radios on unlicenced frequencies, you are risking not just interfering with the original company’s business operations, you could be interfering with public safety channels too. This can cause serious problems and may even become a life-threatening situation. For that reason, the regulating authority in the UK takes this stuff very seriously. With satellite tracking, they can find offenders quite rapidly.

Either return those radios to the person who sold them to you and pick up some good PMR radios, or apply for your own business frequency and have a radio dealer reprogram them to your assigned channels. Quite frankly, whoever sold you those radios should have disclosed the fact that they are useless unless you get them reprogrammed to your own licenced frequency.

I think we need some perspective here. Unlicenced use of radios in the UK is commonplace. OFCOM have no resources and frankly, no actual staff at Baldock to even investigate unless the radios transmit on sensitive frequencies, and for GP340’s with their low power, the only frequencies they are likely to impact on are a few belonging to the fire service, the coastguard and possibly airport ground services. However, the chances are if they already work back to back, they’re on established business light frequencies. OFCOM do NOT look for unlicensed radio users with satellite services because satellites are wide area devices. They DO have a number of remote monitoring stations in the major cities and sensitive areas. They do not waste time monitoring business channels, waiting for people to complain about interference.

The GP340 is an excellent radio and a perfectly good radio, better than PMR446, which is what I think you are referring to. Frankly, suggesting swapping 340s for lower powered radios is a very strange suggestion. Thousands of Boafeng 888 radios have been sold on ebay and as delivered transmit on totally unlicencable frequencies. OFCOM do not care. the do not take it seriously - they used to, but have had budget and staff cuts that make them an essential service protection only.

The Chinese programming cables are fine. The issue you are having is that there has been grief with computer drivers since Windows 7 and on 10. The chipset used is an old prolific design and Windows 10 in particular identifies the one installed by the software as an old one and updates it. The update does NOT work. Not just Motorola but many other brands have the issue. I have two virtually identical W10 machines - one programmes fine, the other will not. You have the software and the cable. buying the Chinese one will not help. You just need to find a computer that will run the software.

Cloning is probably the worst thing to do. You just need to read the radios, check the frequencies and then choose ones that are legal to use (UHF or VHF Business Light) is a great place to start. This puts the radio in the right ‘place’, then you either licence it for £75 or you don’t. That is a moral/ethical decision. Paul

Sorry, but if I was the owner of the business who paid for that frequency licence, I would not be happy about the attitude that “thousands do it, so it must be okay.” Also, because this is an international forum, you can bet that in other countries, they most assuredly DO care … and they will monitor and shut down people who buy used radios on places like eBay without understanding that they are not the proper radios for their needs.

The person asked if they need a licence for their intended use. The answer is “yes.” It doesn’t matter if the regulation is poorly enforced. The answer is still yes they do.

What people decide to do personally as far as ethics are concerned are the least of my concerns, especially when it doesn’t impact me. But this forum is not here to provide advice on how to go about programming business frequencies that one is not licenced to use. I don’t really care what the user chooses to do, as long as that person understands that what they are proposing is not legal. And, yes, their usage may impact legal users.

we are in total agreement - and I advised that a licence was required in my first post. I firmly believe in licensing, and promote it. However, I also accept that other people do find the concept of licensing difficult. I have learned over the years that there is no point attempting to convince. My viewpoint as a licensed radio dealer myself - holding business, marine, PMSE and amateur licenses, that advice and guidance is the way to deal with it - NOT - to propagate the idea that our Government have any time devoted to protecting services that have a token licence fee, or free licences (as in marine). I pay a substantial amount in licence fees and I find illegal operation annoying but for me, in my part of the world, I have never had interference from these users and there are far more serious disruptions on PMR446 where the great number of the public operate, but have no clue whatsoever about what licence free radio is. We have advised the poster about the £75 he should pay, and the software issue to allow him to operate illegally. He is free to choose the correct solution. In fairness, he has not said he will not purchase a licence, just said he can’t get the software to work. I am NOT promoting illegal activity, but accept that it happens - here and in the US. I sell many radios and there is no requirement to show a dealer a licence document. Many of my customers work for Government Agencies and request frequencies programmed that make my eyebrows rise a little, but clearly they do not realise the request is a little unusual.

it is NOT OK to use the frequencies in random radios, but as I said, thousands do. OFCOM and their Radio Agency predecessor have never taken any steps to control the import of radios operating on incorrect frequencies. My first business licence in 1980 came with a visit from the RA and the radio equipment was put on a frequency counter and power output checked on a Bird. Now, you go online and they give you a piece of paper and self-certificate your products as compliant.

I am not a judge - merely a court clerk.

Unless you’re talking about 10 miles or more separation between group members on cycle tour or holiday, all you’ll ever need is Tier 1 (where you’ll have license free legit operation) provided your Tier 1 equipment is properly type approved - they’ll be marked as such, then OK within the EU and UK. So, I’d suggest that any PMR446 tier 1 (the stuff mostly marketed at leisure, but not exclusively) analogue items are perfectly up to the job. You could venture towards Tier 1 digital, but the range of kit that’s off the shelf ready to roll is much narrower.

I mean, I used to cycle in a group and we had some 49Mhz items that were the size of three stacked PP3 batteries, but back then (before there was a formal license exempt status for mW level gear) you never bothered anyone so it went unnoticed.

So unless you want Tier 2 grade stuff for a bigger licensed use (Ham radio or commercial licensed use) purpose down the line, Tier 1 (the commonly retailed license exempt grade) is as far as you need go and be guilt free at the same time.

It’s not like you’ll want repeater access or 20 miles+ and the features of Tier 2 analog or digital stuff. So, any licensable Tier 1 system you can get under a license free use is as far as you need go, and remember, you’ll be more wanting stuff with a long running time and water/muck/drop resistance more than high ERP generated range and features you’ll never need.

License free 446 systems are today’s equiv to license exempt 49Mhz stuff in essence, but UHF instead, but you’ll buy much better grade of kit even in the leisure focused ranges than any 27Mhz CB or 49Mhz non-pro radios could ever deliver, and the better units accept external mics etc, so wired hands-free or speaker-mic operation (courier style) is well within the budget and cheap as chips.

I say all this, having a lot of options to play with for leisure radio, but if I had to use something away from home for a few days extended use plus, I go with bombproof and simple and suited to the job at hand irrespective of under which license or exempt status respectively.