The toughest decisions about two-way radios (walkie-talkies) should be determining which models have the features you need. FCC licensing should be the easy part, and it can be — provided you leave licensing complexities to the professionals.
Radio Basics: Getting your Paperwork Together
What information does the FCC require? The agency needs to know your business name, address and federal tax ID, if you have one. It also needs to know how many radios you are buying (or using) and the latitude and longitude in which they will be operating. If you’re installing a large network, the FCC will need to know about your base stations, repeaters and tower heights.
There are all sorts of fine-print requirements that are easy to overlook — for example, the FCC must have your email address, because approved licenses are delivered electronically, not by traditional mail. That’s why the FCC works with official coordinators who work as intermediaries between the users and the regulators.
The coordinators that Two Way Direct uses take all the essential data from our customers and compare it to entries in the FCC database. That way the coordinator can pick the cleanest frequencies; which are the ones least likely to experience (or cause) interference with other users.
Since the airwaves are shared, you may never have them all to yourself, but the coordinator can limit or even eliminate the most significant conflicts. For instance, thanks to official FCC coordinators, if your restaurant is next door to a huge car factory, you won’t have to communicate with your kitchen staff on the same channels used by the auto plant’s security guards.
How Much Does FCC licensing Cost?
The cost of an FCC license involves three fees: one that goes directly to the FCC, a second that goes to the coordinator, and a third that goes to the dealer. For example, fees for a small setup of a half-dozen radios might total only a few hundred dollars. It’s about the cost of a single portable radio; and the license does not require renewal for 10 years.
Think about it: If you can afford the radios, you can afford the license. It’s possible to work directly with an FCC coordinator, but you’re better off letting your dealer handle it. Dealers know you do not want to hassle with a lot of regulations so they try to keep their application fees reasonable.
Your two-way radio dealer should also know every radio, repeater, base station and antenna in your configuration, so they can batch and forward everything in the coordinator’s favorite format, thereby streamlining the process. Plus, the dealer can store all of your records in one place.
What’s Next after I Apply?
It may take the FCC up to 6 months to process the application and these lead times can limit how soon you can get your network up and running. However, in most cases, applicants are allowed to begin operating 10 business days after the certification date while waiting for the approval to come through. This all-important certification date can be provided by the coordinator.
Once the approval is received, you are required to file a “construction letter” with the FCC telling the agency that you have in fact installed the system for which you applied. Again, your dealer can help make sure this gets taken care of properly. After that, it’s just a matter of renewing your license every 10 years.
The real value of licensing is more than staying within the letter of federal laws and avoiding ruinous penalties. It’s about being good neighbors and recognizing that the system works best when everybody follows the rules.
Two Way Direct Can Help!
At Two Way Direct, we have a department devoted to FCC licensing applications. Depending on the type of license needed, we work with various coordinators who serve as advisers and liaisons with the federal agency. In addition, as part of the FCC services that we offer to our two-way radio customers, Two Way Direct keeps archived records for future reference.
For assistance with your FCC licensing, contact Support Services at 888-742-5893.
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