Motorola announced that it has completed the development of subscriber-unit software designed to ease 800 MHz users' transition to new spectrum via rebanding.

Finished three months ahead of schedule, the software will let a Motorola radio operate on both the old and new frequencies used by the customer without having to reprogram the unit multiple times, according to Chuck Jackson, Motorola's vice president and director of system operations.

“After you upgrade a site, the site sends out a signaling bit, and the mobile recognizes that it's the new band plan, and it works there,” Jackson said. “Then when you drive to an area where you haven't upgraded yet, it acknowledges that you're using the old band plan and switches back.”

In addition to smoothing the transition within a given radio system, the software also lets subscriber units work on other systems — with which there are interoperability agreements — during rebanding. After the subscriber units have been reprogrammed, they will continue to communicate with interoperable partners even as the partners' infrastructure is undergoing the rebanding frequency change, Jackson said. He added that upgrading all radios — including those not otherwise subject to rebanding — that might access the system is important.

“You lose 230 channels if you don't work with these people to upgrade the system,” Jackson said.

Motorola was not expected to have the software available until the end of April, but the vendor decided to dedicate additional resources to the task to prevent the shipping of new radios during the next few months that later would have to be reprogrammed, Jackson said.

Given Motorola's market-share leadership in the public-safety community, the availability of the software was considered by many licensees — and Sprint Nextel, which is paying for rebanding — as a critical component to an efficient rebanding process. At least one licensee in mediation has indicated it needed Motorola's software to relocate to new frequencies.

“It was important to Motorola to get this critical milestone completed early so that we can help move the FCC's process along and minimize disruption to our customers as they transition to the new frequencies,” said Tony Marshall, Motorola's general manager overseeing the 800 MHz rebanding program.

“We're very proud of the early completion on such an immense effort undertaken by our software design and test teams and look forward to assisting our customers throughout the rebanding process.”