OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — Public safety agencies in Kentucky are swapping and reprogramming their radios to comply with a Federal Communications Commission mandate aimed at increasing the number of frequencies available for use.
By Jan. 1, the radios must use 12.5 kilohertz channels instead of the 25 kilohertz radios that have been in use. Any agency not complying faces a possible $16,000-a-day fine.
The purpose of "narrowbanding" is to increase the number of VHF and UHF radio channels available for use. The FCC began exploring the issue of changing radio frequencies in 1993.
For Daviess County firefighter and paramedic Nick Wall, that means reprogramming hundreds of pagers and radios to comply with the requirement.
"There are a lot of people out there who are wanting" radio frequencies, Wall said. "Getting an FCC license for the ones available is getting a little more difficult."
Daviess County Combined 911 Dispatch Center Director Paul Nave said the change "virtually doubles the frequencies" available for the FCC.
"There are not a plethora of frequencies (available) in the United States that are far enough apart that they don't interfere with each other," Nave said.
The issue affects a number of county departments, such as the sheriff's department, the paid and volunteer fire departments, the parks department and the detention center.
The jail and sheriff's department have contracts with Motorola to have their radios reprogrammed, Nave said. Having Wall reprogram the radios to meet the "narrowbanding" mandate saved the county money. Motorola will reprogram radios at a cost of $20 per radio, Wall said.
Wall told the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer (http://bit.ly/U89bdr ) he's switched over more than 400 devices so far and has about 20 more to do for the county's parks department.
Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, http://www.messenger-inquirer.com