Ann Davison, CAE
Strategic Information Manager
Time’s Running Out to Meet the Narrowbanding Mandate
October 12, 2012
The IAFC is reminding its U.S. members that there are fewer than 90 days to comply with the FCC narrowbanding mandate.
This FCC order requires those wireless radio systems operating on frequencies below 512 MHz (on UHF and VHF channels) to reduce their broadcast bandwidth from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz by January 1, 2013. By this date, your system has to migrate from 25 kHz (wideband) to 12.5 MHz (narrowband) channel bandwidth or a technology that achieves equivalent efficiency.
For those who haven't converted, you must have a plan for how you intend to convert. The FCC has waived the need to narrowband for systems operating in the T band (470–512 MHz).
Some took the FCC’s T-band extension as an indication of a broader extension to come. Users that subsequently delayed the narrowbanding of their systems are now facing a potential penalty—including FCC fines up to $112,500. Coupled with an intention of frequency coordinators to ignore—for coordination purposes in 2013—waiver-free, noncompliant wideband systems, this could be a costly decision.
Departments that aren't in compliance and haven’t been issued waivers will have their licenses turned over to the FCC Enforcement Bureau for action.
There are a number of resources available to help fire departments with this issue:
- A recent article by Chief Charles Werner, chair of the IAFC Technology Council, is an informative piece on actions to take now to ensure compliance.
- Federal Communications Committee narrowbanding webpage
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The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.
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