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Narrowband deadline approaches for Iowa police, fire agencies

This news story was published on December 31, 2012.
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DES MOINES – Narrowbanding is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) terminology for a process that will reduce the size of radio channels used by many public safety and business systems in the US. The transition to narrowbanding has been mandated by the FCC to occur no later than January 1, 2013. Narrowbanding will cut in half the amount of radio spectrum used each time a radio transmits a message. The FCC’s goal is to create more available channels in congested frequency bands.

Frequencies affected by the narrowbanding mandate run from 150 MHz to 512 MHz.1 This range includes the very popular bands known as VHF and UHF. If local law enforcement, fire, or emergency medical services agencies use VHF or UHF frequencies, these agencies are required to modify their radio systems, as needed, to comply with the FCC narrowbanding mandate.

According to the FCC, this Federal narrowbanding mandate “will ensure more efficient use of spectrum, relieve congestion, and result in increased channel availability for LMR systems.”

The Iowa State Patrol is currently working toward this transition.

Agencies who do not comply with the transition could face enforcement consequences.

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