Private Mobile Radio
PMR446 (Private Mobile Radio, 446 MHz) is a licence exempt service in the UHF radio frequency band and is available for business and personal use in most countries throughout the European Union.
PMR446 is typically used for small-site, same-building and line of sight outdoor activities. Equipment used ranges from consumer-grade to professional quality walkie-talkies (similar to those used for FRS/GMRS in the United States and Canada). Depending on surrounding terrain range can vary from a few hundred metres (in a city) to a few kilometres (flat countryside) to many kilometres from high ground.
Historically, analogue FM is used but a digital voice mode has been available in radios conforming to digital private mobile radio (dPMR446) and digital mobile radio (DMR Tier 1) standards designed by ETSI.
Originally 8 channels were available in analogue mode but this has now been increased to 16 channels. Typically PMR446 is used for both recreational and business use, additionally it has been utilized by amateur-radio operators and radio enthusiasts as a license-free experimental band.
Unlike mobile phones, with PMR446, calls are unlimited and free and there are no subscription charges or licence applications to complete making them ideal in situations where instant voice communication is required over distances of up to 6km (actual PMR446 coverage depends on terrain and environment) and where GSM signals can be patchy. Another benefit of PMR446 is that compliant equipment may be used in the following CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) territories and their overseas or semi-autonomous territories without restriction:
Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulaaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, FYRO Macedonia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portuga, RomaniaIta, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom
*Includes the overseas or semi-autonomous territories of Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russian Federation, Spain plus the constituent parts of the United Kingdom as well as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
PMR446 operates on frequencies that are shared by multiple users on an uncoordinated basis which means there is no control over the number of users sharing the same frequencies at any one time.
Features offered by PMR446 radios:
* Group call (unlimited users)
* Calls from radio to radio (individual call)
* Open calls or privacy calls using analogue or digital privacy codes
All equipment for use on PMR446 frequencies is required to be in hand portable / walkie-talkie form, feature a fixed integral antenna and operate with an effective radiated power not exceeding 500mW (0.5 watts), while the use of base station, mobile radio, repeater or fixed infrastructure is specifically excluded.
Existing PMR446 frequencies
446.0-446.1 MHz was the frequency band designated for analogue PMR446 by CEPT/ERC Decision (98)25 of 23rd November 1998.
On 28th October 2005 by CEPT/EEC Decision (05), the frequency band 446.1-446.2 MHz was designated for use by the new generation of digital PMR446 equipment in development by manufacturers.
The introduction of digital technology represented a major step forward for professional users and brought the additional benefits of:
- Improved audio quality
- Increased battery life
- Improved service quality extending the communication range limit
However, PMR446 has proven to be an extremely popular format and this success has led to instances of the overcrowding of PMR446 frequencies and restriction of service availability especially in the case of analogue usage in cities and major urban areas at times of peak demand, for example at large events, in confined geographic areas etc.
*Digital 446.1 – 446.2 provides 16 channels in 6.25 kHz and 8 channels in 12.5 kHz
The new PMR446 frequencies
To ensure continued availability of license-free analogue and digital PMR446 frequency bands and reduce congestion, new PMR446 frequencies are being introduced across Europe in line with Harmonised European Standards EN 300 296-2, EN 300 113-2 and EN 301 166-2.
Benefits of the new 446.0-446.2MHz frequency spectrum
The new 446.0-446.2MHz extended frequency spectrum will double the number of license-free PMR446 channels available for equipment operating at 12.5 kHz and 6.25 kHz channel spacing:
Analogue* equipment which can only operate on 12.5 kHz channel spacing increases from 8 to 16 channels
DMR Tier 1** digital PMR446 which operates on 12.5 kHz channel spacing with a Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) channel access method increases from 8 to 16 channels
Both DMR Tier 1 and dPMR446 digital radios can operate in both analogue and digital modes
operating at 6.25 kHz digital and 12.5 kHz analogue simply at the press of a button
In addition, EN 300 296-2, EN 300 113-2 and EN 301 166-2 stipulates the following technical characteristics shall be applied for PMR446 applications in order to reduce the risk of harmful interference:
- PMR446 radio equipment having Push-To-Talk (PTT) functionality capable of being latched ‘on’ shall apply a 180 seconds maximum transmitter time-out
- PMR446 radio equipment having no Push-To-Talk (PTT) functionality shall apply a 180 seconds maximum transmitter time-out and VOX (Voice Activated Transmitter) control
- Compliance of PMR446 radio equipment with all technical requirements shall be demonstrated with the applicable Harmonised European Standards ETSI EN 300 113-2, EN 301 166-2, or EN 300 296-2
- All the permitted equipment should be 6.25 kHz (or equivalent) per voice channel
Changes to equipment to take advantage of the new frequencies
Existing analogue and digital PMR446 hand portable walkie talkies will not be able to take advantage of the increased capacity available unless modified and updated.