Saturday, March 31, 2007

800 MHz Rebanding

Ahhhh, rebanding. What's all the fuss about? Put simply for scanner users it could be a headache for some. Keep in mind that rebanding will only affect Motorola 800 MHz trunking systems. Other systems (LTR, EDACS, etc) in the 800 band will only need to have the new frequencies programmed into your scanner.

Very few trunk tracking scanners will work properly after rebanding occurs on the system(s) you are monitoring. Why? Trunk tracking scanners use factory programmed tables to decode the trunking data. After rebanding, these tables will change on the control channel of the system you are monitoring. Your scanner will still be trying to use the old tables to decode the trunking data while the rebanded system will use a new set of tables. This will cause your scanner to miss the trunking data and not decode the traffic.

What can you do about this? Not much if you don't own a newer scanner capable of being updated. Newer scanners have the ability for users to apply firmware (or software) updates to fix minor bugs, adjust settings, etc. The manufacturer issues these updates and the user can add them to the scanner using a PC.

What scanners are said to survive after rebanding? Lets take them 1 model at a time. Newer Uniden scanners will likely be able to be upgraded by a user applied firmware update. This update will adjust the trunking tables to work properly on Motorola Systems. Following are a list of Uniden Scanners that are expected to survive the rebanding process:



See Uniden's Statement on Rebanding If you own an older Uniden, not on the list above, it will not work if your local Motorola 800 MHz system rebands.

The second scanner make we are discussing are the Radio Shack brand scanners. Most of the Radio Shack trunking scanners will not work on Moto 800 MHz systems after rebanding, including the popular Pro-97 and Pro-2055 scanners. What Radio Shack scanners are said to survive? See below:

Radio Shack

*Pro-92 (original version only)

Radio Shack's Official Response to Rebanding.

The Pro-96 and Pro-2096 scanners have the ability to have their tables manually adjusted by the user via Win96 software. This is said to keep them working after rebanding occurs. The Pro-433 and Pro-528 will likely have a user applied firmware update issued by Radio Shack. The Pro-92 (original version only) will likely not need any updating, as it does not use trunking tables to decode the Motorola 800 MHz systems. Versions Pro-92A and Pro-92B however will not work on Moto 800 MHz systems that reband.

All other scanners not listed will likely not work on trunking systems after rebanding. All scanners will work just fine on all systems; LTR, EDACS, Conventional frequencies, etc. The only systems affected by rebanding are Motorola systems.

800 MHz Rebanding simply means that frequenices in a given range are currently being used for both Public Safety and Cellular use. This is said to be causing a significant amount of interference on public safety radios from cellular frequencies. The FCC and Nextel (Sprint Nextel now) are rebanding the 800 MHz band to separate public safety and cellular. For more information see the official 800 MHz Reconfiguration Website. To get a better idea of how 800 MHz Rebanding will look inthe 800 MHz spectrum, see the illustration below:

For more information see the following resources: Reconfiguration Quick Reference Guide, The Expansion Band Brochure, or the Official Reconfiguration Reference Guide 2.0.

Keep in mind that rebanding will only affect Motorola 800 MHz trunking systems, as far as your scanner properly working is concerned. Other systems (LTR, EDACS, etc) in the 800 band will likely have their frequencies moved, requiring you only to program new frequencies into your scanner, but trunking will continue to work on these systems.

The rebanding process won't happen overnight. It has been delayed several times up to this point. No one seems to know exactly when systems will begin rebanding. It could be months, a year, or more before this affects numerous scanner hobbyist. Until then, enjoy your older scanners and start looking to upgrade to newer ones if necessary!

Matt Outlaw
aka safetyobc

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