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I have a Baofeng GT3-MK3, a great little radio. Is it OK to use this on the low output setting for general use without a licence, for things like camping/hiking family use etc, if I used the legal frequencies, i.e. 446 in UK?

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Unfortunately not in the eyes of Ofcom.

While you can restrict the power usage down to 0.5 Watts, the antenna is removable. You'll notice that most of the stuff sold on the high-street will have solid antennas.

For the PMR frequency use, as part of the "license-free agreement", apparatus in use must meet the high-street requirements.

Worth noting though, there's not a single Ofcom document out there that mentions removable antennas as a no-go, interpretation of the documentation and relevant citations is all we have to go on. It's a rather deep rabbit hole reading through all the linked PDF documents.

Further reading:

(Non-ofcom interpretation) http://www.walkie-talkie-radio.co.uk/information-about-walkie-talkie-radios/two-way-radio-licencing-in-the-uk

(Ofcom) http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/spectrum/spectrum-policy-area/spectrum-management/licence-exempt-radio-use/licence-exempt-devices/Analogue_and_Digital_PMR4461.pdf

(UK Interface Requirement 2009) http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/spectrum/spectrum-policy-area/spectrum-management/research-guidelines-tech-info/interface-requirements/IR2009.pdf

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  • $\begingroup$ Please feel free to edit my above answer, cheers. $\endgroup$ – Laice Mar 24 '16 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ The Ofcom document linked references ERC/DEC/(98) 25 whose revision from 2012 mentions that EN 300 296-2 describes radio equipment using integral antennas intended primarily for analogue voice communications;, which it does indeed describe. $\endgroup$ – AndrejaKo Mar 27 '16 at 20:52
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If that is the same as the Baofeng GT-3TP, the lowest power setting on that is 1.5 Watts, so officially not legal.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Amateur Radio Stack Exchange. Be sure to take the tour at ham.stackexchange.com/Tour to get the most out of this site. Meanwhile, if you are going to state a legal opinion about what is allowed in the UK, I would recommend you edit your answer and show something to back it up. $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Aug 15 '17 at 8:03
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fixed antennas are not abligatory on pmr 446 anymore as long as they dont increase gain i was told personly by ofcom that so regardless of what anyone says its like the story of baofeng s not complying whole top and bottom of it is big companies dont like it so spread crap thats it

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    $\begingroup$ Can you provide a link/citation for that fixed antennas are not obligatory any more? $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Sep 3 '16 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ Hmmm. "I was told personally" seems dubious as a fully-qualified answer. Might want to do some editing of your post here. $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Aug 15 '17 at 8:05

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