What you need to know about licensing a microwave radio system with the FCC

July 19th, 2018

Licensed microwave offers a lot of advantages when it comes to wireless backhaul. However, the biggest detractor is the fact that you have to figure out how to actually license it with the FCC and, of course, pay for the license. That cost can certainly add a lot of your overall project.

Andy Moss, Alliance’s resident broadband wireless guru, continues a three part-series of blog posts on licensed microwave with a FAQ on microwave licensing in the USA. We hope this debunks some of the confusion but if you are still confused, call us!

Licensed Microwave Radio FAQ – USA (FCC)

Q: How long does it take to get a system licensed?

A: This can vary somewhat, but if an FCC approved Frequency Coordinator is used, the time frame is generally 30 days. If coordination with Canada or Mexico required, this can add up to six weeks to the time.

Q: How much does it cost for the license?

A: License fees are per site, $510, and valid for 10 years. Application fees vary but are typically $1,000 to $2,000 per link.

Q: Who pays for the license?

A: The cost of the license is born by the licensee. If you’re an integrator, this is your customer, the end-user of the system.

Q: I’ve heard that all licensed radios are full-duplex. Why is this when unlicensed radios use TDD?

A: Frequency bands are all paired with equal upstream and downstream RF bandwidth. This is due to band-plans being made to cater to circuit-switched data connections such as T-1, DS3, OC3 etc.

Q: Can the FCC cancel the license after ten years has elapsed?

A: No. It may be renewed indefinitely.

Q. Can anyone help me get the license?

A. ComSearch provides frequency coordination & licensing services in the US, usually for a flat fee. We recommend contacting them.

Q: I have more questions about all this, who do I talk to?
A: Call us at Alliance, we can help.