A triband radio is a form of ham radio. It should not be confused with triband technology, which is often found on cellular telephones and GPS devices. The term triband is used in reference to the three different bands in which older ham radios are able to function.
Ham radios allow for individuals to broadcast over the airwaves using select frequency bands. These bands are HF, UHF, and VHF frequencies. The three frequencies are predominantly the ones used in ham radio broadcasting and in receiving transmissions to and from other ham radio users.
Each of the frequencies must have a radio that can receive that broadcast signal; otherwise, if one user uses HF, he can't hear broadcasts in VHF. With triband technology, radios are able to both transmit and receive broadcasts from all three band originations. In addition, along with the triband radio comes the triband antenna, which is used as the primary receiving and broadcasting device for the ham radio user. Without a triband antenna and a radio capable of receiving signals from all three frequencies, the user is limited regarding the receiver’s capabilities in both broadcasting and receiving signals.
Triband radios have undergone significant changes since the inception of the first radios. The materials and necessary equipment have become smaller. Handheld units are even available for receiving triband frequencies. Further, if the equipment used by the transmitting party is of good quality, someone on the other side of the world can easily listen to the user's transmissions.
One major advantage of triband radio is that the signals sent out from the triband radio are able to be received by a single-signal radio in the format that the radio is compatible with. In other words, if someone has an HF radio, he can hear a signal produced by a triband radio. The signal will be sent from triband in the format appropriate for that particular receiver. The versatility of triband radio signals thus allows for anyone with a proper ham radio system set up to both receive and transmit at least one form of frequency bandwidth.
No matter what setup the user has, however, the user must first apply for a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to legally transmit broadcast frequencies across any type of airwave. The FCC does charge for the license. Each user is given a radio station naming of his own to allow the station being transmitted to be identified.