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FCC Logo The FCC has established 2017 as the deadline for requiring all 700 MHz licensees to operate with 6.25 KHz spectrum efficiency. 700 MHz radio

conversations may occupy only 1/4 of the bandwidth that is used by most of today’s radio systems beginning in 2017.

Alternative methods exist to meet this requirement, and most equipment sold before 2011 will not be able to meet the requirement at all. There is a strong possibility that 700 MHz radio equipment purchased before firm standards are agreed upon will have to be replaced prior to 2017 in order to meet the FCC requirement.

The FCC will require manufacturers to ensure that all 12.5 KHz equipment is also able to operate on 6.25 KHz channels by 2011. The FCC probably will not take a position on what technology is used to meet this requirement. The P25 Phase II standard will address this issue.

The FCC has not set a deadline for licensees of systems that operate below 512 MHz to migrate to 6.25 KHz channelization. A deadline has been set only for 700 MHz licensees.

Caveat emptor… The 700 MHz radio equipment purchased or specified in the near future will probably become prematurely obsolete because it will not meet the 6.25 KHz spectrum efficiency standard set by the FCC’s 2017 deadline.

Note: This article is written for non-technical public-safety decision makers, so the technical merits of 2-slot TDMA and FDMA alternatives are not discussed here.