Narrowband Mandate Looming: What You Need to Know

Charles Werner shares last minute details to help departments meet the FCC's narrowbanding mandate deadline of Jan. 1.


Immediately determine if your organization/locality is narrowband compliant. In order to do this, you will need to work with your manufacturer or radio maintenance shop to determine what equipment that you have in place and identify all of the equipment that will need to be replaced.

  • Immediately apply for an FCC narrowband waiver
  • Take inventory and identify equipment that must be replaced
  • Identify the impact and the alternatives available
  • Develop a migration plan to strategically replace equipment
  • Inform/update elected and appointed officials and update them on the urgency and jointly develop a funding source to make this happen
  • Test the radios operating in the narrowbanding
  • This transition warrants testing of the new equipment to understand functional differences, especially when it comes to coverage and operation
  • Identify other organizations/agencies that are on the same system or operate in a mutual aid situation to ensure that narrowbanding is coordinated with them

Refarming of radio frequencies is also another result of rebanding which will allow for more efficient use of the radio spectrum.

Radio communications is critical to command and control and it is extremely important that all public safety officials become and remain aware of the changes that are ahead. Presently, there are a number of radio spectrum issues that are affecting or will affect public safety organizations. These issues include (but are not limited to) rebanding, narrowbanding, refarming and new radio spectrum communications proposals.

Additional Resources:

CHARLES WERNER, CFO is a 35-year veteran of the fire service and chief of the Charlottesville, VA, Fire Department. He serves on the Virginia Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee, Virginia Secure Commonwealth Panel, National Public Safety Telecommunications Council Governing Board and IAFC Communications Committee. Werner is chair of the IAFC Technology Council, first vice president of the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association and chair of the DHS SAFECOM Executive Committee. He recently was appointed to the FCC’s new Emergency Interoperability Response Council (ERIC) Public Safety Advisory Council.