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6 Critical Areas You Must Know Before Receiving an FCC License

6 Critical Areas You Must Know Before Receiving an FCC License
by   |    April 26, 2021

Know These 6 Areas for an FCC License

Discount Two-Way Radio has been helping professionals working in the industries of construction, manufacturing, warehousing, education, and oil refining improve their safety and work efficiency through professional grade two-way radios. One of the areas we get the most questions on involves the rules and regulations surrounding the FCC Licensing process. That's why we created a four-part series on everything you ever needed to know about getting an FCC License.

The first thing any two-way radio user will need to address when approaching the FCC licensing process is answering these six critical questions that make up the bulk part of the application process when applying to the Federal Communications Commission for a two-way radio license. These six questions revolve around the following concepts:

  • License Filing
  • Rules & Regulations
  • Purpose
  • Location
  • License Type
  • Emissions & Frequency Band

This article will carefully outline in detail each one of these vital areas of awareness for a two-way radio FCC License.

1. Fill Out the Correct Application and Forms

Like any licensing process through the federal government, applying for an FCC license starts with forms and applications. The FCC is very detailed when it comes to application forms that will need to be filled out based on the type of license being requested.

Reliable dealers like Discount Two-Way Radio will help find frequencies that work for specific needs. This may require some testing, so see that the chosen frequencies are not cluttered with other traffic or users.

Once specific frequencies are chosen, then an application and the requested frequencies will go to the FCC for approval. Once the FCC has approved the application, they will issue a temporary authorization prior to a permanent authorization and a physical copy of the license. It is always a good idea to have this license presented or easily accessed in case an FCC inspector conducts a routine inspection.

What type of radios are required to have an FCC License?

The three most common types of radio equipment that require an FCC license include Land Mobile Radios (LMR) which are used in professional business operations, government agencies, and schools; Ham Radio Equipment, which is for amateur radio users, and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) equipment which is primarily for family use and comes out-of-the-box preprogrammed.

2. Rules and Regulations

Like a drivers license, receiving an FCC license to legally operate two-way radio equipment is a privilege and not a right. That’s why there are specific rules and regulations associated with using an FCC two-way radio license. are government property by having a license you or your organization is getting permission from government for the privilege of using public airwaves. Here are some basic guidelines the FCC requires two-way radio users to follow to keep for the privilege of using public airwaves and to keep within the laws outlined by the FCC:

  1. Keep you license up to date. A typical two-way radio FCC license is good for 10 years.
  2. Only operate two-way radio equipment within specified terms and limits of your license.
  3. Nothing is private, so take caution with the language used over the radio. Two-way radio users have received hefty fines of thousands of dollars by the FCC for using profanity and bad language in addition to the revocation of the FCC license.
  4. Always keep two-way radio equipment functioning within the proper specifications so that it does not interfere with other radio users. It is the responsibility of the two-way radio license holder to resolve any interference issues based on poorly operating radios.

A good list of rules to follow to keep your FCC license in good standing


3. Purpose

From the perspective of the FCC, the term “purpose” is just a simple way of explaining exactly how the two-way radio equipment will be used. Or more specifically, just exactly what is trying to be accomplished by using two-way radio equipment? Will they be used primarily for on-site security purposes or will they be installed into a fleet of trucks to improve project efficiency? Like all of these fundamental areas of concern for applying for an FCC license, it should be answered with as much description as possible because this will help the FCC orchestrate the best possible solution for the two-way radio equipment, and will protect the user if there happens to be a challenge to the license or if another party is interfering with the original license-assigned frequencies.

4. Location

This area of concern addresses exactly where will the two-way radio equipment in question be located, and how far will the signal need to travel in order to achieve your purpose.

What many people may not realize is that an FCC License is tied to a specific geographical area of operation. Obviously the rationale behind this is to ensure that competing radio users operating in the same geographical area do not “step on each other” with an already assigned frequency and channel. Believe it or not, the FCC takes into account a whole host of concerns when coordinating frequencies in a specific geographic area. These include the specific geographical region, what is the radio emission (which will be addressed later in this article), and how much power does the radio in question produce. While it is true that license holders may operate in multiple geographic regions, it is also true that these multiple areas need to disclosed so that the FCC can coordinate specific frequencies that parallel multiple locations. So, be prepared to list all the specific locations where the radios will be used in order to protect the radio user from channel competition.

In summary then regarding the term “location”, the radio user should be prepared to answer to two very specific questions relating to location.

  1. What are the speific geographic areas the radios will be operated in, and …
  2. Will the radio equipment be operated in multiple locations.

5. License Type

The license type generally refers to what type of two-way radio equipment will be used. There are four basic types of FCC two-way radio licenses, including the following:

  • Commercial License

A commercial two-way radio license is used in the case where the license holder has a tower and wants to be able to sell airtime on their tower frequencies. Imagine for example, a cell phone company that sells time using their infrastructure. There are many two-way radio dealers that have purchased many frequencies, and are able to sell them to a specific area. In major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, this can be a very lucrative business.

  • Mobile Radio License

A Mobile radio licenses refer to a portable two-way radio device that uses no power enhancing equipment in its operation. Whatever power comes out of the radio’s antenna is the power is that the FCC will consider when issuing a mobile radio license.

  • Itinerant License

By far, the most popular two-way radio license is the FCC itinerant license. Licensing itinerant frequencies is less expensive and usually must faster than getting licensed for exclusive business frequencies. Itinerant licenses are usually applied to radios that can be used "right out of the box", requiring no special programming. The downside with itinerant frequencies is that they are shared, and there is a high potential for interfere do to the radio traffic on those frequencies by other licensed users.

  • Repeater License

A repeater system is able to take a weak two-way radio signal and rebroadcasts it (i.e. repeats the signal at a stronger level). Keep in mind that repeater licenses need two pre-defined frequencies, one for the repeater’s transmission and one for the receiving. Another factor that goes into issuing a repeater license is the height of the repeaters’ antenna, and the repeater’s power.

6. Frequency Bands and Radio Emission

An FCC license allows the radio user to operate on specific bands, frequencies, and emissions. Discount Two-Way Radio has helped hundreds of thousands of two-way radio customers program the radios for specific industries and needs, and can easily explain these areas for anyone is unfamiliar with these terms.

But in basic terms, the radio band refers to the type of radio service the license will fall under, and the emmission refers to the method of modulation, nature of the modulating signal, and the type of information being transmitted on the signal.

However, for the sake of this paper, some basic examples of bands and frequencies include the following:

  • FRS band operates in UHF and in the frequencies of 462 & 467 MHz
  • GMRS band operates in UHF and in the frequencies of 462 & 467 MHz
  • LMR band operates in VHF and between the frequencies of 150-174 MHz (VHF) and 421-512 MHz (UHF).
  • MURS band operates in VHF and in the frequencies of 151 & 154 MHz

The two basic areas that define the two-way radio’s emissions include whether the radios operating in analog or digital modes, and whether radio is using a repeater system or a trunked system?

Again, call Discount Two-Way Radio at 800-895-5122 to answer any questions relating to bands frequencies or emissions.

Posted in: Industry Guides