Radio Licensing

 Why do I need a radio license?

Radio spectrum is a non-renewable resource; a scarce commodity which is controlled by the governments of the world for the public good.  If everybody transmitted whatever signals they wanted, then nobody would be able to enjoy reliable wireless communications.  Radio device licenses and radio frequency licenses are the mechanism through which the government allocates fair access to spectrum and allows them to bring enforcement actions against abusers.  If you are persistently causing interference to other authorized users, there is a high probability they will report this to ISED and ISED inspectors are often able to locate abusers to levy the fines and charges. Fines for basic violations in Canada start at CDN$2500 per offense.

Unlicensed Radios

As an alternative to licensed radios, FRS and GMRS unlicensed radios are widely available. These are the inexpensive Cobra, Uniden, Garmin, etc. radio brands available in retail stores.  They use specific UHF frequencies and are limited in their transmit power: 1/2 Watt for FRS and 2.0 Watts for GMRS. The low power severely llimits the transmit range because these weak signals are easily blocked by building walls and tree foliage.  The limited number of channels means that these unlicensed radio channels are typically quite heavily used. There are 14 channels in the Family Radio Service (FRS) and 15 channels General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radio bands. 7 of the 15 GMRS channels are shared with FRS channels (making only 21 unique channels total). 

Licensed Radios

In contrast, the KC-589 licensed radio is able to transmit up to 10 Watts of power in UHF and VHF bands.  This extra power allows signals to penetrate much further through walls and tree foliage.  VHF band generally has better range outdoors and through tree foliage.  UHF band often works better at penetrating buildings.  Licensed radios offer hundreds of channels in each band, and licensing processes exist to protect commercial users from interference on their designated frequencies within their designated area of operations. Specific channels are designated as "open" and are available for general use by any user with a licensed radio transceiver.  The KC-589 ships by default with 77 open channels programmed.  Please refer to the default channnel list for specific restrictions on where each channel can be used.


RIC-42 — Guide for Calculating Radio Licence Fees in  Canada
The bottom line: In Canada, multiply the licence fee per unit by the number of mobile or portable radios involved to give you the total licence fee for the mobile stations.
e.g. 6 mobiles x CDN$40.80 = CDN$244.80 per year


Radio License Application - Mobile Station  ISED-ISDE2366: Mobile Radio Station Licence Application
Amateur Radio Operator's License Fact Sheet from ISED (Industry Canada)