PDT Staff Writer
Due to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate, all mobile radios be narrowbanded by January 1, 2013. This mandate is expected to cost communities in Scioto County a collective $100,000.
According to the FCC, “on January 1, 2013, all public safety and business industrial land mobile radio systems operating in the 150-512 MHz radio bands must cease operating using 25 kHz efficiency technology, and begin operating using at least 12.5 kHz efficiency technology.
This deadline is the result of an FCC effort that began almost two decades ago to ensure more efficient use of the spectrum and greater spectrum access for public safety and non-public safety users. Migration to 12.5 kHz efficiency technology will allow the creation of additional channel capacity within the same radio spectrum, and support more users.
After Jan. 1, 2013, licensees not operating at 12.5 KHz efficiency will be in violation of the Commission’s rules and could be subject to FCC enforcement action, which may include admonishment, monetary fines, or loss of license.”
According to Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini, narrowbanding is going to cost Scioto County $97,000.
“Ten years ago we put about $150,000 in our radio system to upgrade it. That was the first time it was upgraded since the 1950s. We spent that money to switch to highband, because we had been using lowband since the 50s. I was told the lowband was going to get phased out and you were not going to be able to have very good transmissions,” Donini said. “So, we went to the highband and ten years later we have to switch to narrowbanding. That switch is going to cost us about $97,000.”
When asked if if he saw this as a good thing or not, Donini said, “I see it as a moneymaker for the government and the FCC. I just hope that it doesn’t cause complications for law enforcement and first responders. This is giving us half the ability to transmit and receive. They may say there’s a demand for more agencies but, to do it at 50 percent, I think it’s crazy.”
Donini said Scioto County accepted the responsibility to pay for the cost associated with narrowbanding for all of the agencies the sheriff’s department services directly.
“We will not pick up the cost for the city of Portsmouth or the village of New Boston. It covers the narrowbanding of all the towers that services all of the fire departments in the rural county along with EMS,” Donini said.
The village of New Boston council recently voted to spend $850 to re-program their emergency radios. According to village officials this action was taken to come into compliance with the narrowbanding requirement.
Officials with the Portsmouth Police Department were not available for comment on how much narrowbanding would cost the department.
For more information about narrowbanding visit, http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/public-safety-spectrum/narrowbanding.html.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org.