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A BRIEF OVERVIEW
Licensees in the private land mobile VHF and UHF bands traditionally have employed systems that operate on channel bandwidths of 25 kHz. Narrowbanding refers to a requirement by the FCC that - on or before January 1, 2013 - all existing licensees implement equipment designed to operate on channel bandwidths of 12.5 kHz or less, or that meets a specific efficiency standard.
What this means is that licensees will need to convert their existing wideband (25 kHz) systems to narrowband (12.5 kHz) operation. Any equipment that is not capable of operating on channels of 12.5 kHz or less will need to be replaced.
This does not apply to Pagers who are operating on paging-only channels.
There is a timeline which has been set forth by the FCC for this transition. For instance, you may continue to operate on a wideband (25 kHz) system in the VHF or UHF land mobile band until January 1, 2013. As a practical matter, however, you may want to start planning and preparing for your narrowband conversion now. Here's why:
As other licensees complete their transition to narrowband channels, new channels likely will become available for licensing. It is possible that new operations could be licensed within your operating area on a channel that is only 12.5 kHz removed from a channel on which your 25 kHz system is licensed to operate. The likely result is interference to your operations. The best way to protect yourself against such interference is to implement your own narrowband conversion.
Many public safety agencies use their VHF and UHF systems for important safety-related communications, both during emergency situations and in the course of day-to-day operations. For these agencies, it is particularly important that the transition to narrowband equipment be achieved as smoothly as possible and with the minimal amount of disruption to system operations. The more time you have to plan how to carry out your transition, the less likely it is that your critical operations will be disrupted during the cut-over process.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NEXT
- Become familiar with the FCC's requirements and take them seriously.
- Narrowbanding is both an opportunity and a challenge.
- Be wary of sales pitches from companies you don't know.
- Know where to turn for advice and assistance.
You need not go through the narrowbanding process alone. We'll guide you through the maze by providing you with the most current information concerning this and other changing technologies. Then you can determine what your next step should be, and when.
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