Farmers and others who use two-way radios will be impacted by a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule change effective Jan. 1, 2013, according to John Nowatzki, North Dakota State University Extension Service ag machine systems specialist.
The rule change, originally proposed in 1992, is intended to increase the capacity and efficiency for business band and public safety radios. The rule change is referred to as "narrowbanding" and requires program changes to two-way radios.
The rule change requires people operating wideband (25 kilohertz bandwidth) voice or data systems to migrate to narrowband (12.5 kHz bandwidth or
equivalent) systems. Users who do not make the switch by Jan. 1, 2013, face the loss of radio communication capabilities.
The narrowbanding change is part of an effort to promote more efficient use of the radio spectrum. All VHF and UHF industrial/business licenses using 25 kHz land mobile radio will have to migrate to narrowband 12.5 kHz efficiency technology. UHF and VHF bands are overcrowded causing existing systems to operate poorly and there is not enough bandwidth to implement new systems.
"Farmers who use two-way radios will be affected by this rule change," Nowatzki says. "The rule change requires users to change the frequency on their old radios and apply for a license change to operate on the narrowband frequency. Manufacturers no longer can certify, produce or import equipment capable of operating at the broader 25 kHz after Jan. 1."
Most radios used by farmers can be programed to function at 25 kHz or the new narrowband 12.5 kHz. Most two-way radios purchased after 1998 already have the ability to operate in wide and narrowband modes. The only cost to those users will be reprogramming and relicensing.
Radios purchased more recently already may be operating on the narrowband frequency. Radios purchased before 1998 may not be capable of reprogramming to the new frequency. Check with your dealer if you are uncertain about the frequency of your radios.
Users should contact their two-way radio dealers to have older radios reprogrammed. The cost involved for the reprogramming is set by the dealer. The dealer also can assist with applying for the license change.
Users can go directly to the FCC website to apply for the license change at http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home.