Commonwealth Interoperability Coordinator’s Office (CICO)


Narrowbanding

In 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a ruling commonly referred to as “Narrowbanding” that affects many of the radio communications systems operating in Virginia. Specifically, this ruling impacts any system operating in the portion of the radio frequency spectrum bands designated as Very High Frequency (VHF) High Band (150 – 174 MHz) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) (450 – 512 MHz). The result of this mandate may require some radio equipment owned by state or local governments to be upgraded or completely replaced.

This ruling is intended to provide more radio frequency spectrum to support public safety communication in the future, but requires action now. Anyone operating a communications system in these bands should start by assessing their current systems to determine compatibility for migrating to narrowband operation. Responding on what is found, a plan must then be developed to replace or upgrade equipment, as necessary.

If your organization hasn’t yet considered narrowband migration a high priority issue, it should. Migration will take time and planning. State and local government agencies that do not meet the deadline will lose communication capabilities and face significant operational and financial impacts to their two-way radio communications systems.

Working together, the CICO and the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) have developed the video below to give an overview of the narrowband requirements. Both agencies are available to assist state and local government agencies with the assessment and planning process.

Narrowband: Are You Ready Video

Prepare Now!

1. Identify those responsible for supporting your jurisdiction’s two-way radio communications systems and begin planning conversations early.

2. Assess your current VHF High Band and UHF radio communications systems to determine whether your radio equipment will require upgrades or replacement.

3. Consider your locality’s budget for services and equipment and develop an overall system conversion (or “cutover”) strategy.

4. Develop a wideband to narrowband system conversion plan. 

5. Modify your FCC Part 90 radio licenses or purchase new licenses if necessary.