Regulatory:   Radio Regulation and Spectrum

Licensing obligation
Operating a communications network typically is subject to licensing. Radio spectrum is a scarce resource and using it for setting up a communications system requires a spectrum license in any case. The operating licenses and frequency licenses are granted by the national telecommunications regulator of each country.

Operating license
Operating a commercial mobile radio network practically always requires a specific operating license. In case of private radio networks, i.e. Professional Mobile Radio, the interpretation of the licensing requirements is country specific and the opinion of the national regulator should thus always be consulted before setting up a TETRA network. In most cases a private radio system requires only a frequency license.

Frequency license
Usage of radio frequencies is practically always controlled either by the national radiocommunications regulator or alternatively some frequency band specific frequency management body to whom the regulator has delegated the management responsibility. Upon application the regulator will grant right to use specific frequencies for a specified purpose within a specified region. Frequency licenses typically do snot come free of charge and the cost can vary greatly depending on country and type of usage. For the procedures and fees the national regulator should be consulted.

Radio spectrum for TETRA in Europe
The fast roll-out of TETRA is Europe was partly based on the fact that a fresh frequency band was allocated for the emergency services based on agreement between the EU and NATO. The European Public safety and Security forces are thus using the frequencies 380-385//390-395 MHz for their TETRA networks.

Within this emergency service TETRA allocation most of the frequencies are reserved for Trunked Mode operation (TMO). The Direct Mode Operation (DMO) frequencies are typically allocated at the lower end of the band (from 380 MHz upwards), and specific frequencies for Air-to-Ground operation are allocated at the upper end of the band (from 385//395 MHz downwards) to allow international compatibility.

For the European non-emergency services the TETRA frequencies are typically allocated at between 410 and 430 MHz, also frequencies in the range 450 to 470 MHz are identified for TETRA in some countries and frequencies in the range 385-390//395-399.9 MHz in countries that are not members of NATO.

Radio spectrum for TETRA elsewhere
In Asia and Latin America the so-called 800 MHz band, i.e. frequencies 806-824//851-869 MHz are available for Digital PMR systems like TETRA. In some distinct areas like South Korea, South-East Asia, the Hong Kong SAR, Venezuela etc also frequencies in the 380-400 and/or 410-430 MHz range have been given to TETRA systems. The allocations and overall availability of free frequencies always has to be verified from the national regulator.

European frequency management
Within the EU and CEPT region the usage of radio spectrum is very much harmonized based on the work done under the working groups of CEPT. The harmonisation is guided via published ECC Decisions, that each of the member state will recognize to implement if they so decide, i.e. the final decisions are done at the national level. The Decisions, Reports and Recommendations of the ERC/ECC are published at the website of the European radio Office (ERO), The following Decisions are significant to TETRA:
   – ERC/DEC/(96)01  Frequency bands for Emergency Services
   – ERC/DEC/(96)04  Frequency bands for (civil) TETRA
   – ERC/DEC/(01)19  DMO frequencies for emergency services
   – ERC/DEC/(01)20  Air-ground-air (AGA) frequencies for emergency services
   – ERC/DEC/(01)21  DMO frequencies for (civil) digital land mobile systems
   – ECC/DEC/(02)03  Narrow Band Digital Land Mobile PMR/PAMR decision

Type approvals and market surveillance
Taking radio equipment into use requires official approval to ensure that the devices do cause harmful interference. The traditional method to conduct approval has been type approval testing in each country. Currently the approvals in the EU and CEPT regions are harmonized throughout the region to build wider open market. The basis of the harmonized market is the EU Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Directive 1999/5/EC. To bring radio equipment to market in the EU the supplier has to declare its conformance to Harmonised European standards, declaration is based on test reports from an authorised laboratory. As a visible sign of conformance the equipment carries the CE mark.

The standards with which the conformance of TETRA equipment has to ve verified and declared are harmonized TETRA standards for TMO and/or DMO (EN 303 035-1 and EN 303 035-2), the harmonized Electromagnetic Compatibility standards EN 301 489-1 and EN 310 489-18 and the standards controlling the radiation level to protect human health EN 50360 and 50361. The latter standard defines the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) measurement method to verify that the electromagnetic radiation levels are below international health standards. Conformance to all the above listed standards is required to be entitled to use the CE mark.

In the countries where the CE mark is the passport to the market the regulators conduct market surveillance in the supply chain to check that only CE marked equipment are brought to the market.

Useful links
European Radio Office (ERO)  – 
ERO Frequency information System (EFIS)  – 
Links to websites of European radio regulators ––> CEPT Administrations –> CEPT Administrations’ websites
Links to European national frequency tables ––> CEPT Administrations –> National frequency tables
CEPT – European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations – 
U.S. Federal Communications Commission – FCC Radio Spectrum Home Page – 
U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration – Office of Spectrum Management –

© TCCA. Website design: Peacock Carter