Segments of frequencies at 5MHz are allocated on a secondary basis to holders of a 5MHz Notice of Variation (NoV) for the UK Full Amateur Licence. The maximum power output on 5MHz is restricted to 100 Watts from the transmitter and 200W eirp from the antenna. Mobile operation is not permitted.
UK 5MHz Frequencies
The 5MHz NoV frequency allocation is shown in the table below. Unlike other amateur bands there is no IARU band plan for 5MHz, but operation in the band largely follows the standard convention of CW at the bottom of the band and SSB at the top. Exceptions to this may occur on certain spot frequencies which are also available to other countries, and QSOs may be found on these frequencies using any mode.
|Lower limit kHz||Upper limit kHz||Notes on current usage|
|5258.5||5264.0||CW activity, 5262kHz QRP. 5258.5kHz international use|
|5276.0||5284.0||5278.5kHz international use. EMCOMM Centre of Activity|
|5288.5||5292.0||Beacons on 5290kHz. WSPR|
|5298.0||5307.0||All modes. Highest USB frequency 5304kHz|
|5313.0||5323.0||All modes. AM 5317kHz. Highest USB frequency 5320kHz|
|5333.0||5338.0||Highest USB frequency 5335kHz|
|5354.0||5358.0||Highest USB frequency 5355kHz|
|5362.0||5374.5||Digital modes activity. Highest USB frequency 5371.5kHz international use|
|5378.0||5382.0||Highest USB frequency 5379kHz|
|5395.0||5401.5||Highest USB frequency 5398.5kHz|
|5403.5||5406.5||Highest USB frequency 5403.5kHz international use|
Please ensure a frequency no higher than the ‘Highest USB frequency’ shown in the table above is selected when operating USB, or out-of-band operation will occur. See note 2. below.
Notes on the frequency table:
1. Upper sideband should be used for SSB operation at 5MHz to preserve compatibility with other services.
2. It is important to ensure that the transmitted spectrum lies completely within the allocated frequencies. The transmitted spectrum of an upper sideband signal extends from the indicated frequency on the radio, or suppressed carrier frequency, to 3kHz above the indicated frequency. The highest USB frequency that can be used in each segment is shown in the table and transmitting on a frequency above this will result in out-of-band operation so must be avoided. Remember to set the frequency at least 3kHz below the top of the band segment. As an example in the diagram below, the narrow segment of 5378-5382kHz is only wide enough for one SSB signal which should be no higher than 5379kHz for the signal to remain within the allocation:
3. AM operation is permitted provided the maximum bandwidth does not exceed 6kHz. AM activity can often be found at 5317kHz.
4. Activity from stations outside the UK can be found on 5MHz, although many countries are limited to a few spot frequencies. The more common frequencies are indicated in the table where noted for international use. Operators should be considerate when selecting a frequency for intra-UK operation that their chosen frequency does not prevent operation on a known international spot frequency. For example, selecting a USB frequency 0.5 or 1kHz above or below the indicated frequency for international use will unnecessarily prevent a QSO on the international frequency, and while the UK stations can QSY, the international stations may not have that ability. A good rule of thumb is to use the common frequencies of 5278.5kHz, 5371.5kHz, 5398.5kHz, and 5403.5Khz, or keep them clear for others to use.
5. Note that the segment from 5403.5 – 5406.5kHz is only 3kHz wide, therefore it should be considered as a single channel. For USB operation, the radio should be set to exactly 5403.5kHz as any other frequency would result in the transmitted spectrum being out-of-band. This popular frequency is also shared by many countries, so it will frequently be very busy.
6. Experimental beacons operate around 5290kHz. With the exception of WSPR from 5288.5 – 5289.0kHz, it would be helpful if operators do not transmit in this narrow segment.
7. As with the WARC bands at 10, 18, and 24MHz, there should be no contest activity on 5MHz.
The 5MHz Newsletter
Paul G4MWO produces a regular newsletter on 5MHz activity and operation around the world, which also gives useful information about the current status of 5MHz. It can be downloaded or read as a pdf file in a new tab here.
Communications with Military Cadet Stations
Communication with UK military cadet stations is permitted. These stations will identify with callsigns of a different format to amateur calls and they use a concise operating procedure. They are unlikely to give operator names or locations but will often exchange information on equipment and aerials. Whilst military stations may be heard on any frequency around 5MHz, amateur stations must never attempt to contact military stations outside the frequency allocations above.
RSGB 5MHz Experiment
Since gaining permission in 2002 to experiment on 5MHz, the Society has provided a basic propagation experiment in which all UK amateurs can participate. The experiment is fundamentally looking at propagation within the UK through two sets of records. One uses the logs of contacts between UK stations, the other uses data recorded of the reception reports of the three beacons within the UK 5MHz beacon chain. The data collected from the experiment is still growing and can be downloaded from the 5MHz Database website.
I have an NOV for the band and have enjoyed some extremely good contacts around the whole of the UK and farther afield. The band is shared so expect to hear groups of army cadets etc on air too.