After a lengthy process CB users in the UK will be allowed to use the single sideband (SSB) and amplitude modulation (AM) modes of transmission from July 2014. This debate has been going on so long that interest has fizzled out over time with many believing that it would never be passed.

Depending on how well you’ve stuck to the citizen band license conditions this major change may not make any difference to your use of 27 MHz but if those who have stuck to FM (frequency modulation) go out and spend cash on a new SSB radio it will be a much needed boost for the few suppliers of CB equipment left trading in the UK.

New UK SSB CB Radios

Even though sideband is still illegal to use in the UK that hasn’t stopped a few enterprising radio retailers from trying to get ahead by offering soon to be legal SSB sets for sale. A quick look around online found Nevada Radio offering the Midland 8001XT FM/AM/SSB mobile CB which will be legal to use in the UK once the license changes have come into force and Amazon have the full featured President set pictured below on their UK website.

There has always been a grey area between the different legal status of owning and using certain equipment in the UK and both retailers point out that these CB radios are not yet legal to be used until July.

President Jackson 2 SSB Mobile CB Radio

President Jackson 2 SSB Mobile CB Radio
Click Picture for Full Details, Customer Reviews and Pricing

With so many AM/SSB sets already on our shores many will have access to a CB to use once it becomes legal along with the forever busy secondhand trade in legacy sideband radios which might impact any campaign by manufactures or retailers to introduced new CB’s to existing users.

This relaxation of the CB license in the UK (and Europe) is the most sweeping change ever to happen since citizen band transmissions were first legalized in 1981. The introduction of SSB as a standard transmission mode does potentially give the system more range while at the same time going against the idea of a short range community service that CB was first meant for.

Will this change promote more use of 27 MHz in the UK? Our guess is that only time will tell, we are months off from the license updates coming into effect and it will be interesting to see any increase in activity on air after the official date.

More information about the changes can be found at the Ofcom website

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16 Responses to SSB to Finally Become Legal in the UK 2014

  1. Delboy says:

    So 5 weeks have gone by and so far:

    27.275 USB (Ch27) is proving a very well used calling channel by UK and continental stations with many contacts being initiated on this calling channel (PLEASE REMEMBER TO QSY). The word is spreading that Ch27 is the place to call on USB. There are numerous videos on YouTube showing excellent SSB contacts.

    27.125 AM (Ch14) – Not so popular – AM just cannot cut it with all the electrical interference these days. Very few AM contacts have been reported.

    Interference/QRM issues are certainly a problem with making contacts on the mid band but SSB seems to cut through most of the time.

    The number of UK stations has risen significantly over the past few weeks with many saying that they have only come back on the air to use AM/SSB.

    Overall the legalisation of AM/SSB has been well received by most operators but as previously said SSB is the definite winner, AM is definitely Ancient Modulation!

    • rizzer says:

      Thanks for the update Delboy, good to hear its bought a few of the old timers back to the airwaves. Haven’t had as much time as I would like to play radio lately but have some mountain camping planned for next month and a selection of radios will be dragged along.

      Have marked down your blog to be added to our useful links pages next time I update this website.

      All the best

  2. Danny Jimenez says:

    I am in the USA, so I guess this article does not apply to me. But I would like to at least comment on the topic. I use SSB everyday and it is much better than talking on AM with so many idiots running their mouths on there and using foul language etc. The range is much better, the audio reception is much better than AM. So I do hope that the U.K and the rest of Europe enjoy something we have been using for years legally here in the USA.

    Just my thoughts on the subject…..

    Unit 17
    San Antonio,Texas, USA

    • rizzer says:

      Thank you for your thoughts Danny and comments from the other side of the pond are always welcome.

      The way Citizens Band was dealt with in your country was how we would have liked things to have gone in the UK but CB has never had an easy ride here. The fight to get it legalized and the endless bad choices made about its implementation only served to hold it back in my opinion.

      Who can forget the first allocation “offered” in the UK was around the 900 MHz mark!, even if you take away the poor range at these frequencies this equipment in the 80,s was way too expensive.

      Lets hope we have turned a corner now and just maybe we will see some sort of recognized VHF CB system in the not to distant feature, as least while most of us are still able to pick up a mic 🙂

  3. The Convict - AL. says:

    As usual, they have cocked it up again!, this government has`nt got a clue what is going on in the “Real World”, 27/81 was a disaster just waiting to happen, I have been on CB since the 70`s, and it was Glorious!, to say the least!, locally, groups/clubs, am/fm/ssb, it did`nt matter!, we were one!.
    Until some pratt, came up with the idea, of 27/81, what use was that!, I ask you!, Warrington, Cheshire(was Lancashire at the time), there was a “Very Well Respected Radio Ham”, the late “Bill Sparks”(don`t remember his callsign), he was the Local “Rig Doctor”, in a shop called “Breaker Break”, near Bank Quay Station, that shop was the ONLY shop in the UK, that were Licenced, to do AM to FM conversions, and I was one of the few, that tried them out, when converted!, well, I could`ve “Coughed-Up Phlem” & spat it further!,(thats converted to the UK fm specification), under its original spec, the radio could DX, to the States!, the rest is “History”, and now, they are going to do exactly the same!, “Mess Up”.
    I agree with Mark(above), if you are going to do it right, then, AM/FM, should be on Mid & Low Band, and UK spec 27/81, and SSB, should be on the rest of the Bands from 25.165 to 27.995, and they could keep all existing radio`s, and the “General Public” can be already set up for it!, and NOT have to buy “New Radio`s”, like they had to, for 27/81, because the Jackson 2, is a “Bucket Of Crap”, Me, I prefer the old Jacksons(6 Bands), or my “Old Faithful Cobra 2000 GTL Base Stations), All 3 of them!, Now you ARE Talking CB Radio!, Thats My Opinion, anyway!(to be honest!, I`d stay a Pirate! LoL!), Cheers! AL, The Convict!, 73`s & 51`s, Good DX! Ciao.

    • rizzer says:

      Now see if I had wrote that there would have been at least 2 swear words in it :), thanks for keeping as clean as possible.

  4. mark says:

    Its going to be a mess everybody crammed into the mid band.they haven’t thought this through properly. Not allowed to transmit above 27.405 what a waist of time, 27.555 has always been the calling channel, it will never change.

    Also the mid band suffers with bad qrm and interference and putting us in the same band as the rest of e/u is a mistake they should have made all 11 meters legal problem solved simples.

    Its a freeband so why not make it all legal, we will have to see in time how it goes but Im sat on the fence with this one it will be OK talking local but working dx on midband will be a joke.73s

    • rizzer says:

      That,s just it Mark, how long will any restrictions or attempts any channelization stay in place in a part of the radio spectrum that has been so well used (illegally) for so many years?

      The existing users are hardly going to change where they transmit and once any new converts to sideband understand there are other places to go I doubt very much they will be sticking to whatever conditions have been set.

  5. Delboy says:

    CB will remain license free but you will need NEW legal radios to operate legally on the new AM/FM/SSB European system(Mid Band/CEPT) – One of the best is the President Grant 2. Another good radio is the Albrecht AE5890EU.

    A cross forum/website vote recently decided on the new calling channels:

    14 – AM
    27 – SSB
    31- FM

    Legalisation is expected to take place in July this year.

  6. Skidplate says:

    From what I’ve managed to glean the ” new” ssb will be lsb with calling on channel 38 is this correct

    • rizzer says:

      We have seen plenty of debate over the pass few weeks about exactly where the calling channel will be but if the original FM system is anything to go by it will be worked out by the users themselves over time.

  7. Mak says:

    Well I’ll be buying a new rig. I’ve been waiting for this since ~1981. Although I mostly use the Ham bands (Yes I’m licensed), I still have a penchant for cb. It was the “facebook” of the early 80’s & a massive part of my youth. I still enjoy a chin wag with anyone half sensible. I love the rigs, the antennas, the band, the jargon & all the paraphernalia that comes with cb. It’s amazing who/what pops up on 27MHz now & again. I can’t wait for July!

    • rizzer says:

      There,s nothing like the enthusiasm of a man with radio in his veins 🙂

      CB radio was a route to the amateur bands for so many people who enjoyed the more technical side of the hobby Mak. I,m looking forward to seeing some increased activity on 27 MHz when the changes come in, just the thought of it has made me dust of my old Cobra 148.

      • Mak says:

        Ahhhh lovely! A Cobra 148 GTL DX….. I’ve always dreamt of owning one since I was ~13. Maybe I’ll see if I can sneak one of those past the wife into the house! 🙂

  8. Ian Haines says:

    Right now, I don’t need a license to use my old Rotel RVC 240, 40 channels machine. When SSB and AM become legal for me to use, will the need for a license be brought in, or will licenses still be no longer required?

    • rizzer says:

      Hi Ian

      The practice of not requiring UK CB users to hold a “paper” license was done away with in 2006 partly as a cost saving measure but mostly because only a very small portion of users were bothering to apply for them. The days of actively seeking out people using CB illegally are long gone with visits to your door now only triggered by investigations into interference caused by overpowered or out of band transmissions.

      We Cant see Ofcom changing this situation with the responsibility still on the owner of any CB equipment to make sure they are operating within the revised CB license conditions.

      Hope this helps

      Just out of curiosity Ian are you going to make use of SSB/AM when the changes come into force?

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