Radio Communications Essentials. Module 9: Narrowbanding Pete Peterson

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1 Radio Communications Essentials Module 9: Narrowbanding Pete Peterson 1

2 Topics Why is it Necessary? Who is Affected? Key Deadlines & Exceptions What are the Challenges? Sample Steps to Narrowband Frequently Asked Questions Your Questions 2

3 Why is it Necessary? The Public Safety community needs more channels in the MHz (VHF) and (UHF) bands. To help satisfy Public Safety s demand, the FCC is requiring all non-federal licensees in these bands to migrate their wideband 25 khz voice channels to narrowband 12.5 khz channels or to a technology that provides the equivalent of one voice path per 12.5 khz of bandwidth or provides a data rate of 4800 bits per second per 6.25 khz bandwidth. Federal agencies were required to narrowband on frequencies assigned to them by NTIA by

4 Timeline of the FCC s Narrowbanding Regulatory Policy Implementation Original Narrowbanding Rules Adopted January 2013 Narrowbanding Deadline Announced khz Equipment Becomes Available Interim Deadline (January 1, 2011) New and expanded VHF/UHF systems must comply with 12.5 khz standard Final Deadline (January 1, 2013) All VHF/UHF systems must comply with 12.5 khz standard 4

5 Who is Affected? Typical VHF & UHF two way radio licensees and users include: Hospitals, Ambulance & Emergency Medical Services Local Municipal Government Agencies & Public Works Departments Public Safety, Disaster Response, EOC's & Search & Rescue City, County & State Government Agencies Wireless Data, SCADA, Telemetry & Private Radio Paging Networks Industrial Plants, Manufacturing & Warehousing Facilities Electric, Gas, Wind, Solar Energy Utilities Mining & Natural Resource Exploration Companies Highway, Railroad, Subway, Taxi, & Bus Transportation Services Delivery, Logistics, Freight, & Shipping Operations Airport Passenger Facilities, Security & Tarmac Operations Automobile Towing & Heavy Equipment Recovery Companies Trash, Refuse, Recycling & Disposal Services Farming, Ranching, Agricultural & Nursery Services Construction & On-Site Facilities Maintenance Services School Districts, Universities & Colleges Student Transportation & School Bus Operations Convention Centers, Hotels & Hospitality Services Coliseums, Sports Arenas, Stadiums & Golf Courses plus many others! 5

6 Key Deadlines After January 1, 2011, the FCC no longer will accept applications for new VHF/UHF systems that operate on channels exceeding 12.5 khz channels, unless the equivalency standard is met. FCC first ordered that after January 1, 2011 they would prohibit manufacture or import of equipment that operates on a bandwidth greater that 12.5 KHz; however, The FCC has approved a petition filed by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) which now gives licensees the flexibility to continue to obtain 25 khz equipment for existing systems until January 1,

7 Key Deadlines After January 1, 2011, the FCC will no longer accept applications for modification of VHF or UHF systems that increases the licensees authorized interference contour if it operates on channels exceeding 12.5 khz, unless the equivalency standard is met. As of January 1, 2013, all licensees must operate on channels with a bandwidth of 12.5 khz, unless the equivalency standard is met. For our planning purposes, the narrowband deadline is December 31,

8 Exceptions Paging-only channels MHz and MHz are not subject to the narrowbanding mandate. There are twelve channels reserved for paging in the VHF and UHF bands in the Business/Industrial pool that are exempted from narrowbanding. Your agency may be conducting paging on channels that are not the designated paging-only channels. If so, your paging system must be narrowbanded. Does your agency have public alerting systems (radio receivers or warning sirens) or remote control by radio (SCADA systems) that may also need to be modified? 8

9 Narrowbanding Challenges Planning Funding Resources Maintaining Operable/Interoperable Communications 9

10 Narrowbanding Challenges - Planning Identify personnel and resources to manage and support the transition. Inventory and evaluate equipment to determine what is narrowband-capable and what equipment must be replaced. Determine the costs and identify a funding mechanism. 10

11 Narrowbanding Challenges - Planning Establish internal planning meetings and with neighboring jurisdictions to coordinate your plan. Establish a schedule within your jurisdiction and with neighboring jurisdictions as your agency transitions to narrowband operation. Remember to share your plans with any State and Federal agencies you work with. Identify solutions to maintain operable/interoperable communications during the transition. 11

12 Narrowbanding Challenges - Planning Although P25 digital radios satisfy narrowbanding requirements, it is not necessary to switch to a digital system in order to narrowband. Many radios currently being used are narrowband capable but may not be digital or P25 compatible ensure you are not buying new equipment when it is unnecessary; however, Compare resources and costs to narrowband with your other communications needs to determine if changes to digital/p25, to trunking, or to other frequencies are appropriate. 12

13 Narrowbanding Challenges - Planning Range of radios may be reduced. This problem is more acute in older narrowbandcapable radios, which may have simply been retrofitted with narrowband receiver filters. Some jurisdictions may need to install more towers, or increase the height of existing towers to maintain current coverage. Adding towers, increasing height or antenna systems or increasing transmitter power will require frequency coordination. 13

14 Narrowbanding Challenges - Funding Convincing officials that this isn t a negotiable expenditure. Funding to retune (reprogram) or replace radios. Allocating money for equipment retuning or purchasing in a limited number of budget cycles. Identifying grant opportunities which may be used for: Replacing non-narrowband capable equipment; Retuning existing equipment to comply with the narrowband conversion; Acquiring or upgrading tower sites needed to maintain coverage after narrowband conversion. 14

15 Narrowbanding Challenges - Resources Limited staff resources to: Develop and manage the transition plan; Provide informational awareness and user training; Accomplish licensing. Limited technical resources to implement the plan. May need to hire technicians/engineers/consultants. Make sure that the local radio shop you choose can support your requirements and schedule. 15

16 Narrowband License Status Tool FCC data as of 15 JAN

17 Narrowbanding Challenges Maintaining Operability/Interoperability Multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency communications typically used for mutual aid response may not be possible if group members narrowband at different times. Ideal, but probably not feasible to assume that everyone in your county or region will narrowband at the same time. Risk management planning decision that will affect virtually every jurisdiction s statewide interoperability governance boards. If possible, schedule narrowband change-over for a time when scheduled services are being performed or when system usage is low. 18

18 Sample Steps Assign personnel to lead effort Verify that you have a current and valid FCC license Communicate and coordinate with interoperability groups and surrounding jurisdictions Inventory and assess current equipment for narrowbanding capabilities Identify equipment to be retuned or replaced Consider any additional needs, such as P25 Get quotes from vendors for equipment and/or services Request funding or apply for grants Schedule narrowbanding, considering resources and any impacts on interoperability Switch to narrowband Modify FCC licenses to remove wideband emission designators 19

19 Frequently Asked Questions Will agencies have to buy new equipment? Not usually: most radios built since February 14, 1997 are narrowband capable. They just need to be reprogrammed/retuned; however, don t just assume this capability test it. Does this apply to both conventional and trunked systems? Yes, if the operation is in the or MHz bands Must agencies implement digital technology when using narrowband channels? The FCC has not mandated the use of digital radios. Will agencies end up with twice as many channels? No. If you need additional channels you will need to justify them in accordance with the FCC s rules. 20

20 Frequently Asked Questions Must 800 MHz systems be narrowbanded? The FCC s current narrowbanding mandate does not apply to radio spectrum above 512 MHz. Narrowbanding and 800 MHz rebanding are two separate initiatives. Will paging channels need to be narrowbanded? Yes and No. Paging channels MHz and MHz can remain wideband channels. If you use other channels to page, then you must narrowband your paging system. Will narrowbanding reduce overall coverage? Not in all cases. Only a thorough analysis of your equipment and coverage requirements can tell for sure. 21

21 Frequently Asked Questions Will agencies need to change frequencies? No. Agencies may still operate on the same frequency; however, the bandwidth will be reduced. My local radio shop wants to add a third-party aftermarket device and do some tweaking to narrowband my wideband-only radios. Is this permissible? No. The FCC has ruled that the radio must be designed and type accepted by the original manufacturer to be narrowbanded or it can t be used after December 31, Will the FCC grant waivers to allow continued operation at 25 khz after January 1, 2013? It s possible; but don t count on it. The FCC has taken a hard stand on non-compliance. Failure to narrowband may subject an agency to FCC actions. 22

22 Frequently Asked Questions Is there a second narrowband phase? Beginning on January 1, 2013, to be certified, equipment manufacturers of VHF and UHF equipment must certify that their equipment is 6.25 khz-capable (this was changed from January 1, 2011). The FCC expects licensees will ultimately use equipment that operates on a bandwidth of 6.25 khz or less; however, there is no date for a second phase of VHF/UHF narrowbanding to 6.25 khz channels.* There is an FCC rule for 700 MHz users to migrate to 6.25 khzchannel equivalency on January 1, 2017 but not other licensees in current regulations. 23

23 Can I Seek a Waiver? 24

24 FCC Public Notice FCC staff discussed the Public Notice at the APCO International conference in August, 2011, stating: Requests for waivers must describe how the applicant will comply with the narrowbanding requirements. Specifics how the licensee will move towards compliance, including milestones and progress checks are required Entities who seek waivers of the rules must prove extraordinary circumstances; failure to plan or budgetary circumstances is not considered a basis for a successful waiver request There is no deadline by which waivers must be filed, but the FCC is urging that licensees file as early soon as possible If the FCC has not acted upon a narrowband waiver by the deadline, the licensee will be in violation 25

25 FCC Public Notice There have been bills filed in Congress seeking to postpone the deadline for State, local and tribal governments to comply with the narrowbanding waiver Industry, frequency coordinators and those close to the current legislation do NOT expect the FCC s narrowband requirement to be postponed. Since 16 years has already passed during which licensees were to transition to narrowband, there is real doubt a delay will be granted. Any delays result in any no relief to the spectrum crowding in more heavily populated areas. We urge you to plan for compliance by December 31,

26 Final Thoughts Agencies cannot simply ignore the FCC s rules. Your agency can seek a waiver, but don t count on approval. FCC staff are on record stating agencies should not count on waivers. In their words: requests for waiver must meet a high standard and are not routinely granted. After January 1, 2013, wideband operations in these two bands will be a violation of the FCC regulations. The FCC can take enforcement action, including admonishments, monetary forfeitures, and/or license revocation. In addition, licensees who have not completed narrowbanding by this date may experience interference on their systems or interfere with other systems. As a wideband user, your agency could be ordered to cease operations if your system is causing interference. 27

27 Questions? 28

28 Resources and References FCC Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau FAQS OEC s Practical Guide to Narrowbanding (Short URL) IAFC s FCC Narrowbanding Mandate: A Public Safety Guide for Compliance State of Vermont s Step by Step Narrowbanding FCC License Modification Guide National Institute of Justice: Understanding FCC Narrowbanding Requirements 29

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