Where do you apply for a license to operate on the LTE radio spectrum for amateur radio in the USA? Can this amateur license be used to operate a cell phone independent of a carrier?

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    $\begingroup$ This question appears to be off-topic because it is about commercial cellular phone networks. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 14:59

3 Answers 3


An amateur radio license only grants privileges on the amateur bands. You would need a different type of license to use other bands. The cell companies pay a premium for the license for their spectrum, and they are almost certainly not interested in relicensing it (if they even could).

Moreover, LTE is just a protocol, so there is no dedicated spectrum for LTE in general. Each company that uses LTE uses their own spectrum, which differs per carrier.

So no, an amateur radio license does not let you run your own cell phone independently of carriers. It grants you privileges to use certain modes (voice, Morse code, etc) on well defined spectrum, but does not grant privileges for what you're asking about.

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    $\begingroup$ Note that depending on your country, you may apply for a test license. e.g. in Germany you can get a time/geography limited license for test/research/events (usually a fee of 100-200EUR), if you provide enough documentation as to the why and how. (This is often done on hacker congresses which deploy their own gsm network) $\endgroup$
    – user964970
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 9:29

I am a UK licensed Radio Amateur with some 39 years experience. I also design and build LTE cellular systems for a living.

The best suited Amateur Radio spectrum for LTE operation is the 2.3 GHz band - this can easily accommodate a LTE-TDD (single frequency) system operating in LTE Band 40.

Note that both FCC (and European) regulations for Amateur Radio do not allow the transmission of ENCRYPTED communications - and that LTE is designed with encryption integrated into the system; however, this can be got around by using PUBLICALLY KNOWN keys, i.e. use keys consisting of all'0's.

I can see Amateur LTE being particularly useful in emergency/disaster situations as a means of communicating with members of the public in distress - although there are more regulatory issues involved with licensed amateurs communicating with unlicensed operators.

Alternatively, as a previous poster has indicated - it is possible to obtain an experimental license from the FCC for LTE operation. Note - it is not possible to run a commercial service on experimental spectrum.


Actually LTE standard could be adapted for Amateur for certain bands Amateur radio has some packet switching radios where you can connect to the internet but like Ham radio it is so slow. If Ham radio wants to survive into the 21st century we need to get it away from these old gray haired men and give it new life. Get the internet working at very high speeds. LTE advanced can go as high as 3GIG Amateur has 1.2GHZ band and 440 we could use those bands and implement LTE. You can't sell the service but provide it for free to other Ham radio operators.

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    $\begingroup$ Amateur "Ham" radio is not about the Internet, it is not about high-speeds (usually), and ham radio is not about competing with or duplicating commercial communications networks. Indeed, many in ham radio are there to provide communications when those other commercial systems are broken and this can be done because of the comparatively much simpler infrastructure of ham radio. I am one of those gray haired men who loves ham radio using CW (Morse Code) as my main means of comms. If it were not for CW, I would drop this hobby. I know others like other aspects though. $\endgroup$
    – K7PEH
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ @K7PEH- I normally operate VHF/UHF ...mostly because of landlord constraints...I would love to have a 40 meter vertical and DX. I am not yet a grey haired old man yet but I am working on it. 73-OM de VA2 land $\endgroup$
    – Old_Fossil
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 3:19
  • $\begingroup$ This it totally correct, You can use LTE over Amateur spectrum. As long as traffic is unencrypted and using the allocated bandwidth from the FCC its possible and authorized. It's up to people like us to put together the software to make it happen. $\endgroup$
    – Mason
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 9:27

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