Narrowbanding Archive - FAQs

The FCC Narrowband Mandate deadline was January 1, 2013. However, a large number of licensees continue to hold licenses reflecting wideband only emissions. Therefore, EWA will continue to keep this information available to you as a reference to address your narrowbanding issues and concerns. If you have additional questions or seek updates relating to the FCC narrowband initiative, send us an email using the link provided at the bottom of this page.

What happened when a narrowbanding application was properly completed and sent to a frequency advisory committee (FAC) too close to the January deadline to be properly certified and transmitted to the FCC?

The FCC agreed that each FAC will prepare a list of call signs for which narrowbanding applications have been received on or before December 31, 2012, but not filed with the FCC; these lists will be transmitted to the commission and to all other FACs by January 3, 2013. This FCC-approved process supports narrowbanding objectives and reasonably accommodates licensees that presumptively have narrowband-compliant equipment in place, even though they waited to file their license modification applications.

How do I remove wideband emission designators from my license?

If you have a current license that lists a non-compliant emission designator – 20K0F3E, 20K0F1D, 20K0F2D or 16K0F3E – you can either remove it from your license now, or wait until your license is due for renewal at the FCC or when you next modify your license. Of course, if your license lists only one or more of these non-compliant emission designators, the license should be immediately modified to reflect the use of an FCC narrowband compliant emission designator under which your radio system is operating. In that event, contact EWA for licensing assistance now!

While not mandatory, you may remove an emission designator prior to license renewal directly on the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS). You need to log on using your FRN and password, select the appropriate call sign and initiate an application for modification. Questions pertaining to fee exemptions and attachments must be answered as “yes”, and you must upload an attachment stating that the application is exempt from fees in accordance with §1.1116(a) of the FCC’s rules. When removing non-compliant emission designators, the designators must be deleted from each separate location and frequency where it is listed. Deleting non-compliant wideband emission designators at time of renewal follows a similar process, but there are no attachments regarding fee exemptions as a $215 renewal fee is required unless the licensee is an exempt government or public safety entity. Renewal applications filed without removing non-compliant emission designators will be automatically returned or dismissed by the FCC.

To be sure, contact your EWA Spectrum Solutions advisor for assistance, call us at 800.482.8282, or contact us via the contact page.

What licensing bands were affected by the narrowband mandate?

All public safety and business industrial land mobile radio systems operating in the VHF 150-174 MHz and UHF 421-470 MHz radio bands must now be operating at 12.5 kHz channel bandwidths or narrower, or at an equivalent throughput efficiency for which 25 kHz exclusive use channels may be retained.

The FCC removed the narrowband requirement for T-Band licensees in the 470-512 MHz band in April of 2012. 

Does a a tower owner have any responsibility to the FCC for tower lessee occupants who choose not to comply with the narrowbanding mandate and continue to transmit non-compliant signals?

No. The tower owner is not responsible.

Will 25 kHz non-compliant systems receive interference from narrowband licensees?

Interference will most likely result from both primary co-channel and adjacent channel narrowband systems.

Was Narrowbanding designed to provide more spectrum to Public Safety?

No, narrowbanding is intended to ensure more efficient use of the spectrum when all licensees have transitioned to narrowband.

What does Equivalent Efficiency mean?

If your radios meet any of the following criteria, then they meet the 12.5 kHz equivalent efficiency requirement:

  • One voice path in a 12.5 kHz channel
  • Two voice paths in a 25 kHz channel
  • Data operations on channels greater that 12.5 kHz must employ data rates greater than 4.8 kbps per 5.25 kHz channel, such as 19.2 kbps per 25 kHz channel

How can I quickly determine if my license is narrowband compliant?

If the Emissions Designator shown on your license begins with 4K, 7K, 8K or 11K, then your license is compliant. If your Emissions Designator starts with a number greater than 11K, more than likely 20K or 16K, you are not in compliance and must change your emission.

Do I have to change frequencies when I go narrowband?

Adding or changing your emission to narrowband does not require a frequency change.

What happens if we failed to move to narrowband operations?

Your license is now in violation of the FCC Rules and you are subject to FCC enforcement action, which may include a monetary fine, admonishment or loss of your license.

Is the FCC still accepting and granting waiver requests seeking an extension of time to comply with the required narrowbanding mandate?

The FCC is still accepting narrowband waiver requests, however, such filings must include an explanation as to why they are being filed after the deadline and a defined, expedited path toward compliance.

After we convert our radio system and licenses to 12.5 kHz narrowband, can we keep the 25 kHz spectrum we were once authorized to use?

No. When a licensee updates their system to comply with the narrowbanding mandate and upgrades to either a 12.5 kHz or equivalent analog or digital technology, the amended license reflects the original channel assignment, but the amount of authorized bandwidth will be reduced. There are, however, certain digital technologies that comply with the narrowband spectrum efficiency requirement permitting the continued use of 25 kHz authorized channels.

Are paging-only frequencies exempt from Narrowbanding?

Yes. The FCC recognizes as exempt 14 paging-only frequencies. 

  • Public Safety Pool – 152.0075 and 157.4500
  • Business/Industrial Pool – 152.480, 157.740, 158.460, 462.750, 462.775, 462.800, 462.825, 462.850, 462.875, 462.900, 462.925 and 465.000

For more information, call your Spectrum Advisor or EWA at 1-800-484-8282.

In the case of a user who neglects to properly narrowband their equipment, could a wireless sales/service provider be held liable for programming radios with frequencies that the customer is no longer authorized to use?

Yes. FCC Rule 90.427, Precautions Against Unauthorized Operation covers this issue. EWA has drafted for use by wireless sales/service providers a Customer Radio Programming Release Form that can be used in this situation. It should be noted however, that the form only serves the purpose of drawing your customers’ attention to the fact that they need licenses for the devices you are maintaining. The document itself does not remove your responsibility, but it helps to alert the customer.

Can EWA help me with the narrowbanding of my licenses?

EWA has developed these worksheets that you can complete and submit for EWA to modify your licenses, whether they are industrial/business or public safety. The FCC mandate deadline date to migrate to narrowband was January 1, 2013. EWA has worked with Motorola to develop the form that modifies a license for it to either add or change the current emission to the MotoTrbo emissions.EWA will complete the coordination and take care of all of the Motorola direct deduct co-op paperwork.