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The FCC Narrowbanding Mandate

Who is Affected

The FCC narrowbanding rules affect all operators of land mobile radios (LMR) that use channels between:

  • 150 and 174 MHz
  • 421 and 512 MHz

What will Happen

Wideband LMR systems (i.e., two-way voice radio operating on the 25 kHz channel-widths that have been the standard for the last few decades) will experience increasing interference as other radio operators switch to narrowband channels that may overlap older wideband channels. (Note: interference issues may already be noticeable.)

  • As of January 1, 2011, all new radios sold in the US must be narrowband-capable – thus MY2011 radios/buses may not be able to communicate with wideband LMR systems.
  • As of January 1, 2013, LMR systems still using wideband channels risk: loss of radio communications, substantial FCC fines & revocation of FCC licenses

What Needs to be Done

License-holders are responsible for narrowband migration, therefore the state will handle channels used between agencies and across disciplines in the public safety environment (including ILEEN, Point-to-Point, Firegrounds, IHERN and Med Channels) . If you operate under an FCC license that is in your agency’s name:

  1. PLAN
    • Meet with your administrators, chiefs and department heads to make sure that they are aware of the pending migration to narrowband and ask what preparations they have done to become compliant. Establish dates, deadlines & budgets.
    • Check your entity's FCC radio licenses to insure that they are current and contain the narrowband emission designator(s) of 11K0F3E, 11K2F3E, 11K3F3E or other appropriate 11K narrowband emission. The federal Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) has two excellent Narrowband  tools available here: http://publicsafetytools.info .  Modify your license if necessary.
    • Inventory your radio assets, including base stations, mobile radios, handheld radios and emergency response pagers to insure they are narrowband compliant. Compliant equipment only need to be retuned. Non-compliant equipment must be replaced and programmed with the appropriate narrowband frequencies.
    • Plan for the longer-term – to meet later mandates planned by the FCC, consider new equipment that is capable of 6.25 kHz channels. These very narrowband systems are digital – your license should specify digital operations prior to use of this equipment.
  2. PROGRAM - Budget for costs to reprogram all radios, at least twice, to facilitate the transition to narrow-band operation, and then to remove all wide-band frequencies from your radios. (An FCC requirement.)
  3. MIGRATE - Set and re-tune your radio equipment to narrowband channels on the date set for beginning your narrowband operations.  The SIEC has established a recommended schedule for accomplishing migration in a coordinated manner with the least disruption. View the schedule here.   
  4. REMOVE - Remove all wideband transmit channels from base radios, mobile and portable radios. November 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.

The Indiana Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee strongly urges all state, county and local governmental entities to contact your radio service provider, or your in-house radio professionals, to get this process started. Waiting any longer to address narrowbanding will be too late. Be proactive - to prevent being caught at the last moment without critical radio communications. The FCC can levy fines of up to $10,000 per day for radio operations that violate their rules.

Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee Members

Statewide Interoperability Coordinator - Steve Skinner   •   District 1 - Ray Chambers  •  District 2 - Sue Fox  •  District 3 - Cindy Snyder, Vice Chair • District 4 - Ed Ward • District 5 - Steve Cook, Chair  District 6 - Michael Dewey    District 7 - Dave Costin   District 8 - Tyler Clements   District 9 - Brad Meixell  •  District 10 - Adam Groupe  •  IN State Police - Capt. Erv Faulk  •  IN Dept. of Corrections - Doug Haygood  •  IN National Guard - Col. Pete Nelson  •  IN Dept. of Homeland Security - Don West  •  IN Department of Transportation - Tom Vanderpool  •  RACES - Greg Oberc  •  Cities & Towns - Bob Plummer and Mike Watkins  •  American Red Cross - Dick Webster



Narrowband License Status Tool

Frequency Mapping Tool

APCO Narrowbanding Guidance

Understanding FCC Narrowbanding Requirements


Phase 3 Migration Map