TUPELO – A bandwidth change at E911 has decreased scanner traffic for people who aren’t on the new frequency.
Since January, scanner traffic has slowed for the general listener because of the change from the old 800 mhz frequency, according to Lee County E911 Director Paul Harkins. Harkins said the final two frequencies were changed earlier this week.
The Federal Communication Commission decided in 2008 to start changing the bandwidths because of mounting problems with cell phones interfering with emergency radio calls.
Harkins said Lee County has never had those problems but was required to make the transition anyway.
“With the old bandwidth there was a potential for people using cell phones to interfere with the frequency, which made it potentially dangerous for first responders,” said Harkins. “So the decision was made to change.”
Sprint Nextel purchased the bandwidth space.
Robert Kenny, a spokesman for the FCC, said overall communications are being improved by the change.
Some chatter, such as traffic stops, can’t be heard on the old frequency. Harkins said that if you are on the old bandwidth, the scanner might be even quieter because the control channel, which is the channel used to direct and monitor all E911 traffic, has been switched.
Mark Sheehan works for 800mhz Transition Administration Office, which was hired by the FCC to oversee the project. He said if you have the new frequencies, you can simply put then in your scanner and it will work just fine. Older scanners may have to be replaced because they won’t be able to handle the new frequencies.
Both Harkins and the FCC don’t give out scanner frequencies to the public but they are available on websites such as radioreference.com.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal