Licensing your radio system, what you need to know

I do not know the licensing process in all countries of the world but I got asked this question the other day and have put together some points to consider.

Generally, before applying for a licence, some information about the soon-to-be-installed radio system must be provided to the telecommunications regulator. This information includes the following:

  • Location. Where will this equipment be installed and where is your main area of operation?
  • Frequency. If you have a choice of frequency band: as a general rule, VHF tends to work better in rural/maritime environments. UHF works better indoors and in cities*.
  • Number of radios. How many  of radios (portables and mobiles) will operate on the system?
  • Effective Radiated Power. This is the TX power minus any losses (cables filters etc.) plus the antenna gain (if any)*. For example in Germany the ERP, in most cases, may not exceed 8W.
  • ITU Emission Designator. For MOTOTRBO systems, the Emission Designators are 7K60FXD for data only and 7K60FXE for voice and data.

For repeaters and fixed stations (i.e. radio on a desk), some additional information may be needed:

Coordinates. The geographic coordinates of the repeater site.
Site Elevation. The ground elevation above median sea level.
Antenna Information. What type of antenna is this and what radiation pattern does it have?

In all countries, it is illegal to operate radio equipment without a licence. There are exceptions like, for example, PMR446 in Europe or devices that emit very little RF power like cordless microphones. Devices like cellular phones are covered by the network operators licence.

*If the repeater site is close to an international border, some special precautions may apply in terms of frequency allocation; ERP and antenna radiation pattern. The telecommunication regulator will inform you of this, when you apply.

Have I missed anything?
What experiences have you had with doing this?
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