In December 2004, the FCC ruled that all non-Federal frequencies below 512 MHz must switch to narrowband operation by January 1, 2013, this includes local government and public safety. Currently most of the frequencies that are in this range are wideband. Another important rule that is not commonly known is that on January 1, 2011, no manufacture may produce a radio or pager that is wideband capable for use on 512 MHz or below. Also after January 1, 2001, the FCC will not grant any new licenses for wideband frequencies, or allow expansion of existing wideband frequency systems. They will only grant, and allow expansion of narrowband frequency systems.
What does this mean if your agency has a wideband frequency?
If you have a wideband frequency, your FCC license will be changed to allow for narrowband operation only. You will then need to have all current radios, pagers, and bases changed or reprogrammed for narrowband operation. If a radio or pager is not capable of narrowband it must be taken out of service no later than January 1, 2013.
Ogle County Public Safety has established a transition team composed of law enforcement and fire services to coordinate making these changes to produce a cost effective communications solution for all of Ogle County.
The transition team will be compiling a list of equipment from each agency and working with the agencies to assist them with the process of narrowband licensing. The team also wanted all entities to be aware of the impact of replacement/reprogramming of radios when working on current and upcoming budgets. For most agencies there are only two budget cycles before the law goes into effect.
Letters were sent to representatives for each of the communities in Ogle County. This letter introduced the committee and was sent to encourage each community to look at their communications equipment. This was done in an effort to get everyone to begin the transition to narrowband.
The committee has begun to compile a list of current radios in Ogle County in an effort to identify those that need to be replaced or reprogrammed.