Skip Maine state header navigation

Agencies | Online Services | Help

Skip First Level Navigation | Skip All Navigation

MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > SCIP Monthly Update August 2010

SCIP Monthly Update August 2010


August 12, 2010


It's all about NARROWBANDING

From the Director Rob McAleer: June means only 30 months to Narrowband Deadline.

If you have no idea what that headline means, this message is for you.

By January 1, 2013, as soon as the clock strikes midnight, all radios operating in the Public Safety and Industrial/Business license pools must begin to operate on narrow-band frequencies. A little background:

To take advantage of technology advances and to promote better spectrum efficiency for radio communcations, the FCC has mandated that almost all radio licenses operating in the Public Safety and Industrial/Business Pools between 150-174MHz and 421-512MHz radio bands be programmed to operate on 12.5 KHz channel spacing vice the current 25KHz spacing.

As of January 1, 2013, most licenses for 25KHz frequencies will no longer be valid. This transition to narrowband frequencies requires users to modify existing licenses and to have equipment that can be programmed to operate on the modified frequency. In some cases current equipment can be reprogrammed and in other cases it will require the acquisition of new equipment. Operators that do not meet the narrowganding deadline will be in violation of the FCC regulations and subject to actions by the FCC.

For Private Citizens:

At First glance, you might thiink this has nothing to do with you. But it certainly would affect you if the first responders in your community could not communicate by radio.

So ask your town officials how they're doing on that "narrowband thing." And if a local vote comes up to allocate the funds for relicensing and reprogramming radios, consider this. Your town is doing the correct and responsible thing to ensure that emergency communications are uninterrupted. That's worth supporting.

For Public Officials

The process to move to narrow-band began in 1991. The conversion deadline of January 1, 2013 was set by the FCC in 2004. Hopefully, your community is well on its way to relicensing and reprogramming radio's, or replacing any equipment as needed.

Your steps should include:

  1. Assess/inventory current equipment and radio systems
  2. Plan/budget for new equipment
  3. Apply for new/modified license
  4. Establish timetable for new equipment
  5. Implement your transition plan
  6. Implement new equipment/systems

There will be costs associated with the changeover. many communities across Maine have already allocated the necesary dollars to comply with the narrowband mandate. Others have been slower to respond.

It may be tempting to assume that "someone will come up with the money" and that "someone" is MEMA, with Homeland Security dollars. While MEMA is considering budgeting to assist with some aspects of the changeover, preliminary estimates indicate that the dollars needed far exceed the total amount Maine receives in HS funding. And there is a fairness issue: why should communities which have failed to plan be rewarded, while those who did the right thing shoulder the burden by themselves?

The bottom line? Plan and budget now. Please don't count on a free ride.

For the Business community:

If you have been waiting for a formal notice from the FCC about your licenses, don't wait any longer. We understand that the FCC does not intend to send individual notifications to licensees. So it is up to you to take action to ensure your radio systems are compliant with the new rules.

The same transition steps we recommend for the public officials apply to you as well. To accomplish Step *1, Assessment, we recommend that you contact your radio vendor. Your vendor should be able to advise whether or not you are impacted and if your equipment is programmable. Additional information can be obtained from designated frequency coordinators.

Details regarding the narrowanding requirement are available on the FCC web site. MEMA has also established a narrow-band information page, which will be updated regularly as the progress toward the deadline continues. We will include links to FCC notices, FCC presentations, conversation templates, and general information.

While this is offered as a general reference, MEMA does not have the technical expertise to answer detailed questions. Therefore we recomment contacting your vendor, frequency coordinator or the FCC with specific questions about your system.


Public and business officials must act. To move to narrowband operations, organizations must apply for new frequencies of modify their existing license through the normal licensing process. There is help out there, but the first step has to be taken by the organization.

The good news? Most equipment purchased within the last five years is Narrowbandable and will simply need to be reprogrammed. Older equipment may need to be replaced. Most manufacturers have web sites where you can enter the make, model, year and serial number of your equipment to determine if it is Narrowbandable. Radio system vendors can also assist with this effort.

Many organizations are likely aware of this requirement and have already taken steps to meet the requirement. For others, this may be new and have considerable resource implications. But the deadline of January 1, 2013 must be taken seriously. While the FCC deadline has been delayed in the past, we have not seen or heard anything to indicate it will be delayed again. In fact, there seems to be a strong determination to hold to the announced date.

It's our hope that January 1, 2013 will come and go without any interruption to anyone's communications capabilities. Towns, counties and businesses, with partner support, can make sure that is the case.

MEMA Director Rob McAleer

 873    16


Currently there are four formally recognized COML's in the State of Maine. If you have completed the COML course please complete your task book and have your applications signed off by your respective County EMA Director, and submit it. If you need a COML Recognition and Guidance Packet please contact Steven Mallory at MEMA.

All about Narrowband

MEMA has added a Narroband specific site

Please check for more updates..

IS-704 NIMS communications and Information Management

Course Overview

This interactive computer-based course introduces you to the Communications and Information Management component of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all government, private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together during domestic incidents. Effective emergency management and incident response activities rely on flexible communications and information systems that provide a common operating picture to emergency management/response personnel and their affiliated organizations. Establishing and maintaining a common operatiing picture and ensuring accessibility and interoperability are the principal goals of the Communications and Information Management component of NIMS. Properly planned, established, and applied communications enable the dissemination of information among command and support elements and, as appropriate, cooperating agencies and organizations.

For those interested in taking this class, please follow this link:


(Train the Trainer) September 2, 2010

Target Audience: The COML TtT Course is targeted for all local, regional, state and federal cross disciplinary emergency response professionals with instructional and communication skills background. Instructor candidates must be recommended by their Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) or State Administrative Agency (SAA). Certain prerequisites do apply, call for additional information.

Course Location: The course will be held in the MEMA classroom at CMCC. Central Maine Commerce Center is located on Commerce Drive off Route 27 in North Augusta. Class will run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Lunch and breaks will be provided. Backfill/Overtime for NIMS compliant agencies and communities as well as lodging are available. Contact MEMA training for details. All other expenses are the responsibility of the student.

For further information or to register, please contact Steven Mallory at MEMA. All applications should be emailed/faxed via FEMA 75-5 training application form found at:

Have you received the Maine's communication Unit Leader and Resource Package DVD?

This DVD is used as a tool to better educate communication professionals. If you would like to have a copy, please contact Steven Mallory.

Do you know someone that wants to receive the SCIP Newsletter? It is simple to do, just follow this link to be put on the distribution list.

Signup for the SCIP Newsletter

If you would like to contribute articles for upcoming SCIP Newsletters to highlight innovative practices in your respective counties and/or areas, please contact steven .



Steven Mallory


Last update: 07/20/10