When it comes to UHF and VHF business radios, the FCC requires that all users obtain a license. That doesn't mean that everyone does though. Some estimates suggest that up to 95 percent of users do not acquire an FCC radio license, even though they are supposed to. This may be due to the fact that no license is required to purchase the radios and that licensing can be an added expense. Some users state that they simply did not know that a license was required.

License fees vary widely for UHF and VHF business radios, but the most common license for the radios that Tech Wholesale sells are typically about $70 total for a five-year license. This type of license will allow you to use an unlimited number of radios at your site. All radios sold by Tech Wholesale come with licensing information so you can make an informed decision and stay up-to-date on the latest FCC licensing requirements.

It's important to note that while FCC licensing requirements are broad, Motorola RDM radios (MURS Band) and Digital Motorola RTR radios do not require a license at all. This can make them a popular choice for business owners, since the lack of a license requirement makes them less expensive to own and operate. Interested to learn more? Click here to view radios that do not require an FCC license.

Why you are asked to get an FCC license for Business Radios

Professional two-way radios operate on radio frequencies that are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In order to transmit on these frequencies, you are asked to have a license issued by the FCC. This license is not required to purchase the radios, but allows the FCC to keep track of how many users are using the frequency and what they are using it for.

Note that you do NOT need an FCC license for FRS series, MURS series or DTR series of radios as well as select other types of family two-way radios.

How to apply for an FCC license

If you order your radio from Tech Wholesale, you will receive all of the necessary forms to apply for an FCC license in the package that your radios arrive in.

To apply for a GMRS license, you will need FCC Forms 605 and 159 (which come with your radios).

Professional two-way radios operate on Private Land Mobile frequencies. Application for this type of license is made on FCC Form 601 and Schedules D, E and G (which come with your radios).

You can also download any of the application forms mentioned above directly from the FCC website at: www.fcc.gov. You can also request them through the FCC forms hotline by calling 1-800-418-FORM. For questions concerning the license application, contact the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).

For questions on determining your radio frequency or to find out if you need an FCC license to operate your radio, please call Motorola Product Services at: 1-800-448-6686.

FCC Narrowbanding Mandate

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Narrowbanding?

In an effort to promote more efficient use of the radio spectrum, the FCC mandated all VHF and UHF Industrial/Business licensees using 25 kHz Land mobile radio (portables) migrate to narrowband 12.5 kHz efficiency technology by January 1, 2013. This has helped free up more bandwidth for other radio users and communication networks.

What is spectrum efficiency?

Currently the UHF and VHF frequency bands are congested and often there is not enough spectrum available for licensees to expand their existing systems or implement new systems. This mandate requires licensees to operate more efficiently, either on narrower channel bandwidths or increased voice paths on existing channels. This will allow creation of additional channels within the same spectrum, thereby supporting more users without the need for additional frequencies.

What do I need to do before January 1, 2011 versus January 1, 2013?

After January 1, 2011, users who apply for a new license or modify their existing license must specify 12.5 kHz efficiency. If you need to expand your service area for your existing 25 kHz efficiency system, you will need to submit an application before January 1, 2011. Since that deadline has already passed, you can no longer apply to expand your existing 25 kHz system.

Additionally, radio manufacturers can no longer certify, produce or import equipment capable of operating at the 25 kHz efficiency. If your equipment was manufactured or imported prior to January 1, 2011, it may be increasingly difficult to match your existing radios. If you haven't already, you should consider accelerating your system migration to the 12.5 kHz efficiency.

By January 1, 2013 all licensees must convert to and operate in at least 12.5 kHz efficiency.

If your radio is capable of operating on both the 12.5 kHz efficiency and the 25 kHz efficiency, you must ensure that the 25 kHz is disabled on your device. You must also replace all radios that are only capable of operating at 25 kHz efficiency.

How can I tell if my Motorola equipment is 12.5 kHz capable?

All Motorola radio equipment certified by the FCC since February 14, 1997 is 12.5 kHz efficiency capable. To review the list of Motorola 12.5 kHz capable products please visit www. Motorola.com/narrowbanding.

Quick List of Dual Mode (25/12.5 kHz):

Quick List of 12.5 kHZ Only:

Quick List of 25 kHz Only:

How do I upgrade my existing 12.5 kHz capable equipment?

Depending on the model, reprogramming the radios to operate on 12.5 kHz can be accomplished via front radio programming or Customer Programming Software (CPS). Here is a quick list of resources to assist you in reprogramming your radios:

Does Narrowbanding require me to change frequencies?

This depends on which frequencies you are currently operating on. Below is a quick chart to assist you in determining if you need to reprogram your radios.

What will happen if I fail to comply with the FCC Narrowbanding mandate? Can I continue to operate at 25 kHz efficiency after January 1, 2013?

No. The FCC will prohibit licensees from operating 25 kHz efficiency equipment. Non-compliance will be considered a violation subject to FCC Enforcement Bureau action, which may include admonishment, monetary fines and loss of license.

Will migration to 12.5 kHz change my system coverage area?

Maybe. The best way to find out is to conduct tests during conversion to ensure your radios continue to provide similar coverage to what you had before.

How can I determine if I have a valid FCC license?

Contact your preferred certified frequency coordinator. You may refer to the FCC website for a listing of frequency coordinators. This information may be found at the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.