FCC Mandates New Radio Band Frequencies; Starke County to Change to Narrow Banding

Ted Bombagetti

Firefighters and others using radio communication equipment attended a meeting Monday night called by Starke County EMA Director, Ted Bombagetti, to explain the future mandate to change radio bands. Because of space demands, the FCC is compressing the bands down to what is called “narrow-banding.”

“There’s too many people that want to get radios and there’s not enough frequencies open,” explained Bombagetti. “So the FCC has decided that they’re going to cut the space in half between each frequency. Right now, we’re operating in a space of 25 mhz and they’re going to cut it to 12 1/2. This allows more licenses to become available to the public.”

Bombagetti explained what he is doing to begin the process of making the switch to narrow the banding of all radios.

“Right now we’re doing an inventory of all the radio equipment in the emergency services. We did have a company come in and take a look at out dispatch equipment and the good news there is that it’s new enough and that equipment can be re-banded. In the fire service alone, there’s about 175 firemen, plus each one of the trucks has a radio, so we’re talking quite a number of radios here.”

John Sullivan explains the FCC mandate

Helping to explain the FCC demands was John Sullivan, of Minor Electronics in LaPorte County.

In the inventory of equipment, all make, model and serial numbers are needed. Following the inventory, all licenses for the radios will have to be redone. The radios then need to be reprogrammed, and the equipment that is not able to be reprogrammed needs to be purchased.

Another problem that coincides with this FCC mandate is that many of the sirens in the County are old and possibly not able to be reprogrammed.