Tessco Logo
Advanced Search

Mobile Antenna Basics

An antenna is a device to transmit and/or receive electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic waves are often referred to as radio waves. This is how voice and data are transmitted. An antenna's frequency must be tuned to the same frequency band as the radio system to which it is connected as antennas operate at specific frequencies.

Finding the Right Mobile Antenna

What frequency are you using? Antenna frequency must match the frequency of device

How will the antenna be mounted? Glass, magnetic, adhesive, bolt, or NMO

Is form factor important? Low profile, covert, elevated feed, or color preference

What is desired gain? There are many gain options including Unity, 3 dB, and 5 dB, among others.

Other considerations: Cable type and length, connector(s) needed, and whether a ground plane is required.

Mobile Antenna Applications

Mobile Antennas are used in a variety of ways across multiple industries, and purchased by everyone from major corporations to state/ local municipalities to individual users. Some of the most common uses for Mobile Antennas:

  • In-Vehicle
    • VHF/UHF Radio Communication
    • Cellular/iDEN Phone/Data card use
    • Broadband (2.4 / 5 GHz) for computer use in vehicles
    • GPS for location identification
    • Asset Tracking (Usually GPS & Cellular combination)
  • Handheld radios—UHF/VHF/800MHz Rubber Ducks
  • Access Points  - Rubber Ducks
  • Machine-to-machine (vending machines)
  • Remote Surveillance camera operation, often used with solar power and data/cellular service combination
  • Call Boxes (often VHF or UHF)
  • Building Automation (control lights, temperature, etc...)

Key Frequency Ranges

Because antennas need to be tuned to specific frequencies it's important to know the most widely used frequency ranges:

  • CB: 27 MHz
  • Low Band: 30-88 MHz
  • VHF - Very High Frequency: 108-174 MHz
  • PTC - Positive Train Control: 220-225 MHz
  • UHF - Ultra High Frequency: 406-512 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 698-806 MHz
  • 800 MHz—iDEN, Nextel, SMR: 806-866 MHz
  • Cellular: 824-896 MHz
  • 900 MHz ISM: 902-928 MHz
  • SMR/Data: 900-990 MHz
  • GPS: 1575.42 MHz
  • PCS—Personal Comm System: 1850 -1990 MHz
  • WiFi, 802.11b/g/n, ISM: 2.30-2.50 GHz
  • Public Safety: 4.9 GHz
  • Spread Spectrum: 5.25-5.85 GHz