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June 15, 2010  |   Comments (9)   |   Post a comment

FCC’s Radio Mandate: Getting Tuned In

Although the 2013 deadline is a few years away, now is the time to begin planning and budgeting. Here’s an overview of the mandate and how it may affect your radio system.

by Theresa M. Anderson and Jeffrey Oehm


Jan. 1, 2013, brings a new set of regulations that may affect your radio system. To meet the deadline, do you re-band, re-tune or replace?

As usual, the answer is “yes” and “depends.” Regardless of your approach, all work must be completed by Dec. 31, 2012.

In December 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a mandate that all Part 90 business, educational, industrial, public safety, and state and local government VHF (150-174 megahertz) and UHF (421-512 megahertz) private land mobile radio licensees convert their radio system operations from legacy wideband (25 kilohertz) to narrowband (12.5 kilohertz or equivalent) operations. School buses fall directly under this mandate.

So what does this mean for each operation? The following explanations are intended to provide basic system information. The FCC mandate:

•    Does not require licensees to change to new radio frequencies or different frequency bands.
•    Does not require moving from analog to digital or from a conventional to a trunked radio system.
•    Does not mean that licensees need to replace all current radio system equipment.
•    Does require that all wideband-only conventional or trunked VHF and UHF radios be replaced with narrowband-capable equipment prior to 2013. This includes hand-held portables, vehicle-mounted mobiles, dispatcher stations, wireless data, telemetry, or supervisory control and data acquisition link radios (called subscriber radios) and associated wideband-only conventional or trunked base or repeater stations (called infrastructure radios).
•    Does require that radio system licenses be modified. Schools must verify FCC licensing and meet FCC Part 90. In some cases, a frequency coordinator must be used.
•    Does require replacement of any soon-to-be-non-compliant equipment.

Some states have interoperable systems. Joining these systems can be beneficial to all parties.

For in-depth system or radio info, generally look to an outside source such as a consultant or vendor, as they will determine current and future equipment, system capabilities, a load impact survey (if required) and installation.

As you begin your process, answer these questions:
•    What equipment do you currently have? Analyze your system. Consider doing a system inventory/audit including all school district radios (note all makes and model numbers).
•    What technology is now available? Each radio and each system is customer configurable.
•    What will your funding source be?
•    What frequencies are programmed in your radio? Gather information on your license frequencies and those used under sharing agreements.

Although 2013 is a few years away, now is the time to begin your process, as it will require planning and budgeting to meet the deadline.

For more information about types of systems, such as radio-to-radio, conventional repeater, single-site trunked, DTRS (multi-site), cellular and project management, contact:
•    Theresa M. Anderson, Anderson Consulting LLC, [email protected]. (720) 979-4039.
•    Jeffrey Oehm, The Oehm Group, [email protected], (303) 929-3119.                                                                            

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How do I get my school bus radio freq for Monongalia county, West Virginia?

Richard Caserta    |    Sep 01, 2015 06:41 AM

Wireless Communications can help you stay on top of all FCC regulations-

Amanda    |    Aug 08, 2011 05:13 PM

Ben    |    Dec 12, 2010 08:38 PM

Ben    |    Dec 12, 2010 08:38 PM

Ben    |    Dec 12, 2010 08:38 PM

It should be noted that portions of this article were "borrowed" from the original source

Nick Ruark    |    Jun 15, 2010 06:50 PM

Additional detailed and up-dated information on the FCC's Part 90 VHF/UHF Narrowbanding Mandate is also available on-line at

Nick Ruark    |    Jun 15, 2010 06:42 PM

Tip: You could just use MHz for Megahertz. (1 Hert= 1 Cycle Per Second)

Terry F.    |    Jun 15, 2010 04:10 PM

I am with Lewistown School District #97 in Lewistown,IL.Our local ESDA has sot after grant money to help all the school districts in our County to either up grade or replace old units. Everytime I get a new bus,Ihave a new radio installed.All but 4 of my radioes are up gradeable through computers for the new freq.

Mr.Marian Jugovic'    |    Jun 15, 2010 11:07 AM

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