What to do as narrowbanding clock nears zero
Over and over again we have warned you that private land mobile radio (PLMR) services in the VHF 150-174 MHz and UHF 421-470 MHz bands — for both industrial/business and public-safety licensees — must operate using 12.5 kHz-wide channels, or narrower, by Jan. 1, 2013. If you have yet to complete this work, the following applies to you — read carefully!
What happens if you don't comply? Per the FCC, "Licensees operating in wideband mode after Jan. 1, 2013, that have not received a waiver from the commission extending the deadline will be in violation of these rules. Operation in violation of the commission's rules may subject licensees to enforcement action, including admonishments, license revocation, and/or fines up to $16,000 for each violation or each day of a continuing violation, and up to $112,500 for any single act or failure to act."
Submitted vs. filed: If a narrowbanding application is properly completed and sent to a frequency advisory committee (FAC) too close to the January deadline to be properly certified and transmitted to the FCC, what then? The Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) announced on Dec. 7 that the FCC has agreed to the following LMCC-recommended process:
- Each FAC will prepare a list of call signs for which narrowbanding applications have been received on or before Dec. 31, 2012, but not filed with the FCC; these lists will be transmitted to the commission and to all other FACs by Jan. 3, 2013. This FCC-approved process supports narrowbanding objectives and reasonably accommodates licensees that presumptively have narrowband-compliant equipment in place, even though they waited until now to file their applications.
What about waivers? There is no set date for when a waiver request will no longer be accepted; however, licensees that anticipate the need for additional time to complete narrowbanding should submit their waiver requests to the FCC as soon as possible. Licensees should be prepared to receive a shorter extension period for a later-filed waiver request than for an earlier-filed request.
Radio equipment requirements: Systems must operate on 12.5 kHz (11.25 kHz occupied bandwidth) or narrower channels. Or, they must employ a technology that achieves the narrowband equivalent of at least one channel per 12.5 kHz of bandwidth for voice, and data transmission rates of at least 4800 bits per second per 6.25 kHz of bandwidth for systems operating with bandwidths greater than 12.5 kHz (narrowband-equivalent technology). Finally, equipment will have to be reprogrammed, modified or replaced in order to meet the narrowbanding requirement.
FCC radio licenses: A "straight" narrowbanding modification application — i.e., adding to or replacing an existing wideband analog emission with a narrowband analog emission — does not require frequency coordination or an FCC filing fee.
However, an application changing from analog to digital emissions is not a straight narrowbanding modification application and therefore does require both frequency coordination and payment of any applicable FCC filing fees.
Paging frequencies: The following paging frequencies are exempt from the narrowbanding requirement:
- Public safety – 152.0075 and 157.4500 (*note: 163.250 is not exempt).
- Industrial/Business – 152.480, 157.740, 158.460, 462.750, 462.775, 462.800, 462.825, 462.850, 462.875, 462.900, 462.925 and 465.000.
Wideband equipment: The sale of wideband-capable, Part 90 VHF/UHF equipment manufactured or imported prior to Jan. 1, 2013, is not prohibited by the commission's rules. Also, service shops are not prohibited from repairing wideband-capable equipment after that date. However,customers should be informed that equipment may not be operated in wideband mode after Jan. 1, 2013, without an applicable waiver or exemption!
The deadline date continues to be Jan. 1, 2013, just days away, and you are running out of time! Tick tock … tick tock … tick tock.
For additional information, the latest news, and assistance with the FCC's narrowbanding mandate, visit www.enterprisewireless.org.