Local Hospitals & Public Safety Feeling the Squeeze of FCC Narrow Banding Mandate

On January 1, 2013, all paging equipment (including pagers, transmitters etc) must move to a 12.5 KHz narrowband channel or to a technology that achieves equivalent efficiency.

 

Talk is Cheap

The FCC has been talking about Narrow Banding for quite a while, since 1995 in fact, when the first narrow banding rules were adopted.  In 2004 the FCC announced the deadline of January 1, 2013 as the drop dead date for all Public Safety and Industrial/Business licensees to move their communications from the 25 kHz (wideband) radio frequency to the 12.5 kHz (narrowband) channel bandwidth or a technology that achieves equivalent efficiency.

With the January 1, 2013 deadline fast approaching many organizations are in a tail spin over finding funds and/or new technology to comply with the Mandate, especially those who chose to delay system updates.  Public Safety, businesses, and hospitals are especially feeling the pressure. Many are scrambling for funding or trying to figure out how to score the ever elusive and hard to earn waivers that would extend the timeline of compliance.

On its website, the FCC has published information on the topic along with many helpful resources.

Deadlines and Downsizing

On January 1st of this year, the FCC took an interim step aimed at encouraging compliance by limiting the manufacture of paging systems and new equipment that include a 25 KHz mode. This includes transmitters that are currently supporting existing paging systems.

This step has proven problematic for many pager service providers and pager users. Some transmitter owners are choosing NOT to update their transmitters due to excessive cost and are decommissioning transmitter towers, thus stranding users who had in the past, relied on them for pager service. The state of Illinois is a prime example of how pager service is vanishing before at an alarming rate.

Deadly Impact

Loss of pager service can be an issue of life and death to both hospitals and public safety organizations who rely on priority messaging for first response and ongoing healthcare concerns.

Without the tried and true infrastructure that had sustained the paging industry since its initial FCC approval in 1958, the reliability of paging may now be a game of chance.

Narrowbanding or New Technology?

While some organizations have or are in the process of complying with the FCC Mandate and are updating their existing equipment to the narrower 12 KHz band, others are opting for new alternatives entirely.

Smartphones and smartphone applications like OnPage are a natural fit for the evolving priority messaging landscape. The extended capabilities of smartphones prove far superior to stand-alone pager devices while the functionality of applications is endless.

As a seasoned player in the emergency communication industry, Onset Technology dove head first into the creation of an alternative pager technology that eliminates the issue of narrow banding all together. By leveraging the power of celluar data transmission capabilities and wireless (wi-fi) technology, Onset was able to create a new way of paging: OnPage.

OnPage is a smartphone pager application or virtual pager as some refer to it, which mimics the functionality of a traditional two-way pager, but works right from an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or BlackBerry smartphone device.  As such, it avoids banding issues by meeting FCC “equivalent efficiency” standards.

We believe its one way hospitals, Public Safety and other businesses will meet the looming FCC Narrowbanding Mandate in a seamless and affordable way.

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