In principle, any person using the radiocommunication frequency spectrum must hold a licence. The licence authorises its holder to use radiocommunication equipment in accordance with the following parameters:
- bandwidth occupied;
- radiated power;
- number of items of equipment.
The surveillance relates to compliance with these parameters by users of radiocommunication equipment.
In view of the constant development of new technologies in the area of radiocommunications, the objectives of OFCOM's surveillance are:
- to ensure efficient use of the frequency spectrum;
- to prevent interference.
Since the frequency spectrum is a natural resource which is available in limited quantities, OFCOM must ensure the co-existence of a maximum number of users within a restricted frequency range. It must also impose a limit on the undesirable effects which may be generated by other radiocommunication equipment or by an electrical device which may cause harmful interference to communication. For example, a paraglider pilot may be using radiocommunication equipment on police frequencies which are forbidden to the public. Or a radiocommunication equipment user who has declared two devices may be using thirty, imposing a heavy load on traffic.
Non-conformity of equipment is not the primary aim of surveillance of the spectrum. However, in the event of actual interference or a high potential for interference due to equipment which is not in conformity, OFCOM intervenes with the user by applying a surveillance procedure.