The rule requires all public safety and industrial/business land mobile radio systems operating in the 150-174 megahertz and 421-470 MHz bands to cease using 25 kilohertz efficiency technology and begin using at least 12.5 kHz efficiency technology, or a “narrower” band, so the FCC can free up space for other services. The deadline for compliance is Jan. 1, 2013. Some frequencies are exempt (see sidebar).
Despite the long lead time, operators still using devices that do not comply must act now or face potential enforcement, said Roberto Mussenden, an attorney in the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau. Sanctions range from a mandatory correction plan to monetary fines, he said. And the potential fines are severe; they can range anywhere from $16,000 per day of continued operation of noncompliant equipment, or up to $112,500 for a single violation or failure to act.
“Very old equipment, older than 1998, will have to be replaced,” Mussenden said. The most likely way of getting caught is for a noncompliant user to become the subject of an interference complaint by another user, he said. But he noted that many newer radios can be brought into compliance with a simple software upgrade. Users simply need to change software settings to indicate that the radio will now operate on a bandwidth of 12.5 kHz instead of 25 kHz.