Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is the use of the radio frequency spectrum for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation, radio-sport, contesting, and emergency communications.

The term amateur is used to describe someone who has authorisation and interest in the radioelectric practice but with only a personal aim and no monetary rewards (either direct or indirect) in mind; such a person is different from those involved in commercial broadcasting, public safety (think police and fire), or professional two-way radio services (read maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.). In simpler words, ham or amateur radio is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use it to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It’s fun, social, educational, and can be of great help in times of need.


The ham radio licencing examination is known as the Amateur Station Operator’s Certificate Examination (ASOC examination). It is conducted by the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing of the Ministry of Communications, New Delhi at the Wireless Monitoring Stations located throughout the country. You should apply to the ‘Officer-in-Charge’ (OC) or Engineer-Inspection (whichever is applicable) of the Monitoring Station nearest to your hometown. Basically the examination consists of a 100 marks question paper (50 marks related to basic radio/electronics theory as per the syllabus+50 marks related to Amateur Radio Rules & Regulations) which is of one, two or three hours duration as per the “Grade” of licence you will be going for. There are 4 Grades. You can apply for more than one grades at a time (or for only one grade), provided, separate application forms along with the prescribed examination fees separately for each grade in the form of Demand Draft issued from a “State Bank of India” branch drawn in favour of the “Pay & Accounts Officer” (Headquarters), Department of Telecommunications, New Delhi-110001, payable at SBI New Delhi Service Branch (Code No. 7687) are sent to the “Officer-in-Charge” of the Wireless Monitoring Station (in no case application be forwarded to WPC Wing, New Delhi) where you will be appearing for the ASOC examination.

The particulars of the “Venue” and “Date” etc. of the examination will be communicated by the Officer-in-Charge of the concerned Wireless Monitoring Station on receipt of completed application form along with the requisite examination fees.

Different Grades of Licence/Licencing Examination & Licence

(1)Restricted Grade Amateur Station Operator’s Licence (if you pass Restricted Grade ASOC Examination): Permits line-of-sight short distance terrestrial communication using a power output of 10 Watts (dc input power) in the Very High Frequency (VHF) band. The frequencies allocated in this band ranges from 144 to 146 MHz. Modes of communication allowed are: Radio Telephony(Voice) using Amplitude Modulation (AM), Single Side Band (SSB), SSB Suppressed Carrier, SSB reduced carrier and Frequency Modulation (FM). It is better not to go for this Grade of licence because communication is limited to a very short distance (typical possible range may be 35 km only depending on the height of the antenna or the type of terrain). This type of licence is useful in a place where there are large number of ham radio operators (e.g. Bangalore-where the population of licensed operator is around 4,000 )

(2) Grade II Licence (if you pass Grade-II ASOC examination): Permits worldwide long distance communication in AM, SSB, FM using a power output of 50 watts in different allotted short wave bands (high frequency-HF bands) including the VHF band mentioned above. But entitlement for authorization of voice communication (radio telephony) is on the basis of providing proof of having made 100 contacts with other amateur radio stations using Morse Code (Called Continuous Wave-CW communication). This means that you have to send back your original licence to the WPC wing for “Voice endorsement” along with the photocopies of your log book (see Rules & Regulation)

(3) Grade-I: (if you pass Grade-I ASOC examination): Power output is 150 watts in short waves (allotted HF bands), 25 watts in VHF & UHF (Ultra High Frequency-for satellite communication). With this licence you can directly use voice including Morse Code. Other advanced modes like Radio Tele-Typing (RTTY), Amateur Radio Teleprinting Over Radio (AMTOR), PAcket Radio (-an advanced techniques of digital data communication through computer connected to a wireless transceiver), Amateur Television (ATV using Slow Scan Telecast:SSTV). You are also permitted to work amateur radio communication satellites with this licence.

(4) Advanced Grade: Same as Grade-I licence but allowed to use 400 watts of power in selected sub-bands. This is the highest grade licence in India. Every ham radio enthusiast in India aspires to get it.

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