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Legislator Proposes Funding To Narrowband Radios

Just 15 months before a federal government deadline to convert to narrowband radio communications, a New York legislator has introduced a bill in Congress that would offer local agencies $400 million to finance the upgrades. Rep. Steve Rothman (D) introduced the Help Emergency Responders Operate Emergency Systems (HEROES) Act (pdf) last week, and now hopes to have it attached to other legislation that already has support. Back in 2004 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ordered (pdf) public safety agencies to upgrade their radio systems to 12.5 kHz technology, and gave them eight years to comply. However, like many federal mandates, most jurisdictions have delayed funding for their upgrades and upgrading their radios. Now thousands of agencies are scrambling to find ways to finance the replacement of older radio gear that can’t be converted to 12.5 kHz technology, or upgrade more recent equipment. Th $400 million allocated by the proposed bill would fund only a small percentage of the nation’s narrowbanding cost—the city of Taneck (NJ) says it would cost them $500,000 to upgrade its radio system.

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