Recently, the FCC released a Public Notice to private land mobile radio (PLMR) users operating on VHF (150-174 MHz) and UHF (420-470 MHz) Part 90 frequencies outlining penalties for failing to employ narrowband technology.
The FCC Enforcement Bureau has made it clear they will aggressively identify violators next year. Penalties include losing your FCC license to operate on your frequency and monetary fines up to $16,000 per violation per day. Ignoring the deadline could result in a $112,500 fine per the FCC Enforcement Bureau.
Minimum Requirements to Meet 2013 Narrowbanding Deadline
The FCC requires all radios to operate using 12.5KHz (or equivalent) after December 31, 2012. Radios manufactured after 1996 can probably be modified using a computer and programming software. Surprisingly, there are still a significant amount of radios out there purchased more than 16 years ago that need to be replaced.
You can continue to use analog but you may notice a reduction in radio coverage. Depending on the complexity of your radio system, there may not be enough time for the procurement and deployment of a new digital radio system. A phased approach may be your only option.
Don’t forget to modify your current FCC license to change the emmission designator to narrowband. If not, the FCC will probably contact you in early 2013!
What Should Be Done if You Can’t Make the Deadline
The FCC has been planning for this change and warning VHF/UHF radio users for over 20 years. They have emphasized their commitment for no extensions to the 2013 deadline for the past three years. If you believe you will not make the deadline, the FCC recommends you file a request for waiver but states there will be a high level of scrutiny of all applications.
Download the FCC Public Notice Enforcement Advisory 2012-05 released on August 22, 2012.