Difference between revisions of "Rebanding"

From The RadioReference Wiki

Line 82: Line 82:
* The GRE [[PSR-500]] and [[PSR-600]] digital scanners as well as the Radio Shack [[Pro-106]] and [[Pro-197]] digital scanners support rebanding by entering custom tables for each rebanded system.
* The GRE [[PSR-500]] and [[PSR-600]] digital scanners as well as the Radio Shack [[Pro-106]] and [[Pro-197]] digital scanners support rebanding by entering custom tables for each rebanded system.
* The analog GRE [[PSR-300]] and [[PSR-400]] support rebanding with firmware version 1.06: [ GRE - PSR-300/400 CPU G1.06]
* The GRE [[PSR-300]] and [[PSR-400]] support rebanding with firmware version 1.06: [ GRE - PSR-300/400 CPU G1.06]
* The Radio Shack [[Pro-163]] and [[Pro-164]] support rebanding with firmware version 1.06: [ PRO-163/164 Software Downloads]
* The Radio Shack [[Pro-163]] and [[Pro-164]] support rebanding with firmware version 1.06: [ PRO-163/164 Software Downloads]

Revision as of 20:05, 10 March 2009

Rebanding (also called Reconfiguration) refers to changes to the 800 MHz band plan that is taking place nationwide. Detailed information about rebanding can be found at, but this page gives a brief overview and basic FAQ's. Note that some concepts have been simplified for brevity...if you have the time, feel free to edit the below to include more complete details.


When the 800 MHz band was originally created, two segments of the spectrum were set aside for Cellular Telephone (mobile and base). Public Safety was later assigned a block of frequencies, and "SMR" (community repeater), "ESMR" (Nextel), and public safety services were allowed on the remainder of frequencies. However, unlike in other bands where licensee types were allocated to contiguous blocks of frequencies, in the 800 MHz band Public Safety, SMR, and ESMR services were all mixed together. During the 1980's and 90's, Nextel created a nation-wide network by buying up hundreds of individual licenses for frequencies between 851-866 MHz.

A Brief History of Mobile Comms and Trunking

Public Safety systems are not operated for profit, and typically use a "high site" architecture, where a few base stations with power output in the 100-200 watt range are located on tall buildings and hill tops. This results in lower signal strength over a wide coverage area. Nextel and other ESMR systems use a "low site" or cellular type architecture, with many base stations installed on 1-3 story buildings and 30-50 ft monopoles to create high signal density and greater user capacity over their coverage area. These ESMR sites transmit continuously with ERP of as much as 1000 watts. The presence of these sites, and the RF energy they generate in close proximity to public safety operations, causes radios used by public safety to lose contact with their more distant base stations.

In the late 1990's, the FCC was forced to acknowledge that there was a problem. The number of interference complaints to public safety were rising, and the popularity of the ESMR services that were primarily blamed for the interference was also rising, with no end in sight. Something had to be done. The FCC solicited input from the various users groups to determine the best course of action. After many hearings, replies, counter-replies, and conferences, the FCC issued a Report and Order directing the "rebanding" of the 800 MHz spectrum. The result of rebanding will relocate NPSPAC, the contiguous block of frequencies reserved for Public Safety, and create a separate contiguous block reserved for high power ESMR operations, primarily Nextel.

So, where does Nextel come into this?

Nextel, contrary to popular belief, is not a cellular telephone company. They operate an "Extended (or Enhanced) Specialized Mobile Radio" service (ESMR). It does look like a cell phone, and it operates like a cell phone...but it really isn't. It is a business radio with telephone interconnect, and does not operate in the "cellular telephone" part of the 800 MHz spectrum.

As the largest licensee of ESMR channels, they are also responsible for the largest number of interference complaints to public safety.

What does rebanding actually do?

(To keep it simpler, I'm only discussing the high-power output side of the systems. The input side will be similarly reorganized as shown in the graphic.)

Before rebanding, Public Safety, Business/Industrial, SMR and ESMR's both operate in the 851 - 861 MHz range. ESMR has exclusive use of the 861 - 866 MHz range, and Public Safety has exclusive use of the 866-869 MHz range.

After rebanding, Public Safety will have exclusive use of the 851 - 854 MHz range. ESMR's will have exclusive use of the 862 - 869 MHz range, and public safety, business/industrial users, and low-power SMR's will share the 854 - 860 MHz spectrum.

This is shown graphically here: img_channel_lrg.gif

Why won't my scanner work after rebanding?

Well, depending on what you listen to, it might work. If you listen to EDACS or LTR (or conventional), you will just need to reprogram the new frequencies and logical channel numbers. However, if you listen to Motorola analog systems (which still comprise the largest number of public safety systems), your scanner will probably not track some or all channels in the system after rebanding.

In 1987, 239 channels between 866-869 MHz were allocated exclusively to Public Safety (NPSPAC). These channels are spaced 12.5 KHz apart. Rebanding will relocate the NPSPAC channels to 851-854 MHz. This band was allocated to SMR operations, and the channels were spaced 25 KHz apart, so only 120 channels were assigned. These are the "general category" channels - 851.0125, .0375, .0625, .0875, .1125, etc.

The frequencies in between the general category channels (851.0250, .0500, .0750, .1000, .1250, etc.) are known as "splinter" channels, and were rarely assigned except near the US-Mexico border. Since there were no channel numbers for the splinter channels, Motorola decided to borrow 120 channel numbers from higher in the band (862 MHz), where only commercial systems will operate. The "new" numbers start at 440, so 851.0250 MHz is now channel 440.

Scanners track trunking systems by monitoring the control channel. When the scanner detects a talkgroup ID that the user has programmed in, it picks up the channel assignment for that talkgroup from the control channel, then performs a calculation to determine the actual frequency to be tuned. The calculation uses the assigned channel number, a predetermined "base" frequency, and the step or distance between channels (12.5 or 25 KHz). At no time does the control channel actually pass any frequency information...only the FCC or Motorola channel number.

How will my scanner work after rebanding?

Today if a non-rebanded scanner is told to go to channel 448 in a rebanded Motorola system, it calculates the frequency as (862.0125 + (8 x 25 kHz)) and jumps to 862.2125 MHz. The problem is that channel numbers 440-559 have been "borrowed" to cover the new channels at 851-854 MHz. The correct frequency for channel 448 in a public safety system is 851.2250 MHz, but the scanner doesn't know this. Even if all of the new frequencies for the system are programmed in, the scanner still relies on the above calculation during trunking and will always tune to the wrong frequency.

If a public safety site or system uses ONLY the general category or 1-120 channels described above and/or channels between 854-862 MHz, a non-rebanded scanner should still track that system correctly, because it knows how to find those channels. However, most Public Safety systems are using a mix of existing (1-120) and "new" channels (440-559), and they will miss any communications which are assigned to the new channels. Of course, any 800 MHz scanner will still monitor the new channels in conventional mode, but talkgroups cannot be followed when scanning conventionally.

The data which older scanners (and the older radios in the system) use for the channel-to-frequency calculation are burned into the CPU and cannot be updated without replacing the circuit board, which manufacturers can't reasonably do. Some scanners that are less than 2-3 years old have user-upgradeable firmware, and the manufacturers are creating new firmware to support rebanding for certain models.

Which Scanners Stop Working?

This is a partial list of scanners that are expected to stop working on most rebanded Motorola analog (3600 bps control channel) systems:

Uniden Scanners

  • BC235XLT
  • BC245XLT
  • BC250D
  • BC780XLT
  • BC785D
  • BC895XLT

RadioShack Scanners

  • PRO-2055
  • PRO-2051
  • PRO-2053
  • PRO-2052
  • PRO-2067
  • PRO-2066
  • PRO-2050
  • PRO-97
  • PRO-95
  • PRO-93
  • PRO-94
  • PRO-92
  • PRO-91
  • PRO-90

Firmware updates and rebanding support

  • For older Radio Shack Scanners, it looks like the only way the scanner will work is if RS sets up a board-exchange program to swap out the logic board with one that has the rebanded code installed. No plans have been announced to do this. Here is Radio Shack's Official Statement. This may apply to the Pro-97 and Pro-2055 as well. However, this information has not been updated since October 2006.
  • After much experimentation, it has been found that the Pro-96 and Pro-2096 can follow 3600 baud rebanded Motorola systems, but a special set of tables must be entered in Win96. This function has been implemented in version 1.58 or later. Please see this sticky thread for more information.
  • The GRE PSR-500 and PSR-600 digital scanners as well as the Radio Shack Pro-106 and Pro-197 digital scanners support rebanding by entering custom tables for each rebanded system.
  • Uniden has issued rebanding updates for all supported scanners. The Uniden Wiki has them linked from the scanner manuals page.

When will rebanding happen?

Rebanding and channel swaps have been ongoing since 2005. Depending on where you live, rebanding may have already occurred or will happen some time in 2009 or 2010. The original schedule is below, but this timeline has been delayed several times:



Public Safety is what is referred to as "NPSPAC" in the above timeline. Note that the New Orleans area and other areas affected by Hurricane Katrina have been moved into Wave 3.

Rebanding Resources

Finding the New Frequencies

To find the precise frequency changes for a rebanding system, go to and enter the system's call sign. You will get a list of current and post-rebanding frequencies for the system. Note that systems which have already rebanded may show incorrect information. NPSPAC Systems (866-869 MHz) in Northern California are handled differently. See Northern California 851-854 MHz Frequency Assignments

Public Safety and 800MHz Reconfiguration:

Software for management of the rebanding process - MCM Technology

Example of rebanding process - Michigan 800 MHz Rebanding Project

Answers to FAQ

The below answers are for the most common questions and misconceptions regarding rebanding.

1. This has nothing to do with 700 MHz.

2. This has nothing to do with cellular telephones.

3. No one except the system managers and technicians knows anything for sure. Until a particular system is rebanded, anything you read that says "This is absolutely how it will be" is speculation. However, you can check with the 800 Transition Administrator's site to get the best educated guess of how your local systems may or may not be affected.

First, get the callsign(s) for each of your local 800 Mhz trunk systems. Next, go to the 800Mhz Transition Administrator Resources page- and select the Callsign Checker application. When you plug in each call sign, a chart will appear telling what rebanding steps, if any, are required. Some systems may require very few if any changes, and some may require more than others. Note that some systems have already rebanded and the 800ta database will list incorrect info for these systems.

4. Nextel (Sprint) is paying for the costs of rebanding. However, they are only required to compensate licensees. Scanner users aren't typically licensees, so the cost of creating new firmware, replacing scanners, or reflashing scanners will be borne by the scanner manufacturers and hobbyists.

5. In exchange for paying the costs, Nextel is getting RF spectrum in the 900 MHz and 1.8 GHz range.

Which Systems will be Rebanded?

All public safety systems that use frequencies from 866-869 MHz will reband. All systems not yet rebanded using frequencies between 851-854 MHz will relocate to new frequencies between 854-862 MHz.

Please refer to the following links;

Latest Updates

2/7/2009: City of Nashua, NH (SID 7C25) is in the process of rebanding their Moto Type II SmartZone system.

6/28/2007: City of Lakewood, Colorado completes rebanding of a two site EDACS system that was using all NPSPAC frequencies.

August, 2006: Motorola has received several patents for trunked radio operation, at least two of which appear to target rebanding.

August, 2006: Trenton NJ (WPGP231) and Bethlehem PA (WNWQ636) have both submitted applications to the FCC for rebanded frequencies. These appear to be the first such application submitted for Motorola systems that require new channel assignments. Rebanded systems for Public Safety will be shown as being in Radio Service "YE"

2/22/2006: Motorola completes Firmware ahead of schedule (firmware for Motorola controllers and subscriber units to implement rebanding coverage). Inside the 1Q2006 TA Report, Page 10

2/14/2006: UCAN gets TA Funding, officials anticipate a complete frequency relocation agreement will be signed by June 30, 2006. Article can be found here.