Monday, February 6, 2012

How to tell if your radio is narrow band capable

As the deadline for narrow band compliance became law on January 1, 2013, no longer was an option.  It is mandatory!  Unfortunately, there are those in our industry who will try to scare users into making unnecessary purchases or converting from analog to digital on the premise that “you’ve got to”.

Let’s make one point VERY clear.  There is NO requirement for VHF or UHF systems to convert to digital.  There are some very good reasons for moving up to digital (a subject discussed in a Planner available by clicking here), but there is no requirement!

The real issue is determining whether you radios can be converted to narrow band or if they must be replaced.  Don’t take someone else’s word.  Check it out for yourself!  Here’s how!

Click here to go to a special FCC Office of Technology web site than can be used to quickly determine whether or not an existing radio can be converted to narrow band. Find the FCC ID number on your radio.  On mobiles, it will be found on a label on the outside of the radio (generally on the side or back).  You will need to remove the battery on a portable radio which will allow you to view the label inside the radio.

Let’s check out the popular Motorola GP300.  We start by removing the battery.  Inside, we see a label indicating this radio was made in the USA by Motorola (that statement alone will generally tell you that the radio is too old to be capable of being narrow banded, but that’s another story).  You will see an FCC ID number.  In this example, the number is ABZ99FT4010.  The first three digits (ABZ) indicate Motorola.  The remaining digits (99FT4010) designate the Product Code.

At the top of the page on the line marked Grantee Code, enter ABZ in the space provided.  On the line below marked Product Code, enter the remaining digits of 99FT4010.  Now scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Start Search.

Now, click on the Check Mark below the Display Grant column  (3rd column from the left). On the far left hand side you will see a column marked Emission Designator. In this example, the first two digits of 16 appear. This equipment is capable ONLY of 20/25 kHz operation.  It is NOT approved for narrow band (12.5 kHz operation). This radio can no longer be used after December 31, 2012.

Radios capable of narrow band operation may be approved for both 25 KHz (16) AND 12.5 kHz narrow band, which will have the first two digits listed as (11).  The ICOM F50V is such a radio (FCC ID AFG306000).  The Hytera PD782 and other radios with both analog and digital capabilities will have both the 16 and 11 Emission designators as well as the single digit 7 or 8.  This would apply to other DMR radios as well as radios utilizing IDAS, NEXEDGE, or P25 digital platforms.

The main thing to remember, if the radio you are checking has ONLY the first two digits of 20 or 16, it is NOT convertible for narrow band operation. For an efficient and affordable migration solution, there is only one name you need to know – Falcon Direct! You can call us at 800.489.2611 or email for assistance when needed.