Cherokee County commissioners on Monday discussed local efforts to meet a fast-approaching deadline of “narrowbanding” radios.
Under the Federal Communications Commission’s mandate, agencies have until Jan. 1, 2013 – about 132 more days – to cease operating on 25-kilohertz technology and switch to at least 12.5 kHz.
“Everybody has to ‘narrowband’ their radios and have them programmed where they will be tighter, so their channel doesn’t bleed over on someone else’s channel,” said Cherokee County 911 Coordinator Marty Kimble.
The FCC began its efforts to make the change nearly 20 years ago, hoping to allow for the creation of additional channel capacity within the same radio spectrum, which will support more users.
And though the changes will likely go unnoticed by the public, the move can be costly for some agencies funded by taxpayer dollars.
“If you have to buy all new equipment, it can be expensive,” said Kimble. “Some agencies have hundreds of radios that can’t be converted. But I think we’ll be ready to go [by the deadline] in Cherokee County.”
District 3 Commissioner Mike Ballard said commissioners took inventory of its radios about a year ago, and most can be narrowbanded at a greatly reduced price when compared to buying new equipment.
District 2 Commissioner Bobby Botts said the radios used by his crews won’t convert, so new equipment will be necessary.
“To tell you the truth, we use cell phones more than we use radios, anymore,” said Botts.
Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said the sheriff’s office will be able to convert its radios to the narrowband requirement.
Commissioners also approved a request from the fire department sales tax advisory board to disperse $2,500 to each department. Kimble said the funds will help some stations with the narrowbanding requirement.
Commissioners approved submission of an application that would allow for a road project to cross restricted land. Ballard said the Cherokee Nation is handling the Tenkiller road project, which will begin at Welling Road and stretch to the county line, crossing restricted land in about three places.
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