by A. Westling
July 6th, 2018
by A. Westling
July 6th, 2018
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency that works with the US federal government to help regulate and distribute radio frequencies for all non-federal entities such as state governments and commercial businesses as well as for private use. Since 1992, the FCC has been granting frequencies for use with land mobile radios by granting a license. It helps to coordinate the limited number of frequencies that are available. These licenses help ensure that the frequencies given won’t be used by any other businesses nearby, limiting the amount of interference a business will encounter. Under federal law, it is illegal to use a frequency without a license. If a company chooses to use frequencies without a license, they can be reported to the FCC and face fines if they don't choose to stop using those frequencies.
Once the license application has been filed , a frequency coordinator, someone authorized by the FCC, will examine the application and compare it to the licenses that have already been granted. The coordinator will generate a list of frequencies that can be used and will determine what frequencies are available that fit the requirements for that application. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. During the waiting period, businesses do have an option if they need to start using their radios. They can wait 10 days after their application has been filed and confirmed. This will require an additional form called the construction letter. It lets the FCC know that you have installed the equipment and are going to start using it. After that form, it's only a matter of waiting until your license is confirmed.The Application Basics:
There are a few things the FCC needs to know in order for a license to be granted; all of which is listed on the application. The first, and probably the most important thing, is knowing what bandwidth the business would like (i.e. VHF or UHF). Businesses can apply for specific frequencies, however, there is no guarantee that those frequencies will be granted due to a variety of factors such as a business nearby may already have those frequencies or ones very close to it. The coordinator makes sure that the frequencies they grant aren't already in use by someone near enough to cause interference. Many businesses throughout the country may share frequencies, but because they are spread out, there won't be any interference.
The FCC will also need to know what radios and antenna system are going to be used. They need to know the longitude and latitude of where the antenna will be as well as the height of the antenna and the structure it will be on. This information plays a part in which frequencies you get because the airwaves through which the signals are sent are shared; the higher the elevation of your antenna, the further the signal can travel. Another important factor is the output power from the radios. This can also play a role in how far the signal from the radios and antenna will travel. With all of this information, the coordinator can help limit the amount of interference a company may encounter while using the radios.
There is a fee associated with the license - it covers the application cost and the cost of the coordinator. If a business chooses to file through a third party such as a radio dealer shop, there may be a fee for their services as well. This fee covers the cost of the license for the 10 years it is good for. There will be a renewal fee, but it is less than the initial filing fee. If, during the 10 years the license is active, something comes up and the license needs to be modified, a small fee may apply depending on what needs to be done.
Once a license has been granted, the business can use their radios without worry of fines and interference from other businesses. This license is good for 10 years from the grant date. The FCC or the coordinator will alert you when the expiration date is getting close and you can start the renewal process. The coordinator can help with this process, making sure all of the appropriate forms are properly filled out and filed.