Some radio vendors at IWCE in Las Vegas last week announced that they plan to manufacture new radios with outdated features that will qualify as replacement radios under the terms of the FCC’s 800 MHz rebanding order.

Many licensees with older radios in their systems have expressed concern about what radios they will receive as replacements, if their current radios cannot be retuned and reprogrammed properly. Nextel Communications officials have suggested that they have a warehouse of old radios that can serve as replacements. The FCC order only guarantees that licensees will receive “comparable facilities” and noted that Nextel is not obligated to pay for upgrades.

“We are preparing to manufacture equipment with a reduced feature sets from our current product line to meet the comparable-facilities standard,” Chuck Jackson of Motorola said during a panel session.

The Motorola radios will be called Rebanding Mobile Model 1, Rebanding Mobile Model 3, Rebanding Portable Model 1 and Rebanding Portable Model 3--straightforward names created by Jackson.

“You can tell I’m not a marketing guy,” he said.

An EFJohnson representative said his company also plans to create a radio line with reduced features to serve as replacements in the rebanding process. A M/A-COM representative said his company will attempt to satisfy the comparable-facilities standard with its existing product line.

Whether the Transition Administrator team will approve money for what many attendees called “dumbed down” radios as replacements remains to be seen. Jackson acknowledged this fact but said Motorola wanted to make a replacement radio line available to licensees.

“That’s up to negotiations,” Jackson said. “I don’t think [Nextel] has the number of radios that will fit the need.”