FCC Narrowbanding Requirements

Just as Television Broadcasting has switched from analog to digital technology, two-way radio communication for business, industry and education as well as public safety is moving from analog to digital technology for the same reasons. Digital technology is more efficient than analog, meaning more information can be transmitted in a given bandwidth. And maybe more importantly for you the radio user, digital radios give you much more privacy in your communication than analog radios do.

Do not panic! Your analog two-way radios are not going to become worthless or obsolete over night. If you purchased two-way radios from Fast Radios between 2003 and the end of 2012 it is most likely your radios meet the current requirements set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

But you need to be aware of your options going forward so please read on.

Two-way radios operate in licensed bands, such as VHF (very high frequency) or UHF (ultra high frequency). There are blocks, or channels of radio spectrum within those bands that are regulated through the FCC.

Historically, commercial two-way radios operated on 25 kHz wide channels for a single voice path. Since only a fixed amount of radio frequency spectrum is available for two-way radio applications, and as the number of users has increased over the years, the availability of spectrum has decreased.

The FCC has foreseen this issue and mandated all business and public safety radio users in the U.S. transition from 25 kHz channel spacing to at least 12.5 kHz wide channels by the end of 2012. The two-way radio industry calls this "narrow banding."

Fast Radios stayed ahead of this "narrow banding curve" by recommending commercial quality two-way radios to our customers that were capable of the narrow band 12.5 kHz channels beginning in August 2003. And if you were new to two-way radios when we met, we set you up with 12.5 kHz narrow band programming in your radios. If you already had radios when we met and your radios were programmed to operate in 25 kHz wide band, we recommended radios that were capable of either wide (25 kHz) or narrow (12.5 kHz) and we programmed them to work with your existing radios in the wide (25 kHz) band.

Those radios all needed to be re-programmed from wide (25 kHz) to narrow (12.5 kHz) before the deadline of December 2012. Since January 2013 we have been re-programming any radio sent to us for repair to narrow (12.5 kHz) channel spacing if it was still in wide (25 kHz) and all new radios delivered have been programmed with narrow (12.5 kHz) channel spacing.

Remember - the price of radios you purchase at Fast Radios includes LIFETIME programming changes and updates UNLESS YOU WAIVE THAT SERVICE for a credit.

More importantly, the FCC has stated that 12.5 kHz narrow banding is not enough and is already looking past 12.5 kHz and "strongly urges" business radio users to migrate to 6.25 kHz very narrow band channels. Digital technology is required for radios to operate in 6.25 kHz very narrow channel spacing. It is important to note that the FCC has not yet set a date certain for required migration to very narrow 6.25 kHz channel width.

YOU DON'T NEED TO GO DIGITAL TO BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE FCC right now, but you should read on.

FCC Narrowbanding Mandate

So Fast Radios is staying ahead of the curve again and wants you to be aware of your options. To prepare for the migration to 6.25 kHz very narrow channel spacing, you should consider replacing analog radios with digital radios as the analog radios come out of warranty and need repair.

New two-way radios are now available that will communicate with each other in digital mode as well as with your older units in analog mode. That means you can make the transition or "migration" from narrow channel spacing to very narrow as quickly or as slowly as you wish. And digital radios offer privacy in your communication, superior audio quality as well as a host of features to enhance your two-way radio system security and performance adding value to your investment.

HOWEVER, Don't be scared into spending more than you need to spend - analog radios that do narrow (12.5 kHz) channel spacing are ALL YOU NEED TO BE COMPLIANT right now.

Digital technology is better if you have the budget, but analog communication in an emergency is much better than no communication at all.

Fast Radios is here to help design and maintain your radio communication system so please don't hesitate to contact us with your questions.

As always, thank you for your business!


Bill Richards

Call 800-691-3970 now. We can help find the best radios and radio equipment for you and your company.

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