MIEMSS Narrowbanding Status and Radio Grant Program
(Updated 12/4/12)

*** The FCC mandate to convert certain radio equipment to Narrowband Operation is rapidly approaching. The Maryland Emergency Medical Service (EMS) communications system is affected by this mandate. All EMS UHF communications equipment – portables, mobiles, and base stations – must be converted to narrowband operation by the January, 1, 2013. Counties/companies operating non-narrowband compliant equipment after January 1, 2013 will be in violation of FCC regulations and subject to FCC penalties***

For the past several years, MIEMSS has been working to modify the statewide EMS communications system to ensure compliance with FCC mandates for public safety systems to migrate to narrowband technology. Replacement of Maryland’s non-narrowband-capable infrastructure to accommodate the mandate has been completed and all MIEMSS Regions switched to narrowband operations. 

The Radio Grant Program, which was used to fund the replacement of non-narrowband-capable mobile and portable radios for jurisdictional EMS Operating Programs, closed June 30, 2012.  However, if you still need narrowband-capable equipment, please contact your MIEMSS Regional Administrator about your needs and to discuss your options. See details below for how you may be able to replace non–narrowband-capable equipment with compliant equipment. As noted above, any jurisdiction/company/agency operating non-narrowband equipment after January 1, 2013, is subject to FCC sanction. 

Narrowbanding Plan (Follow-up)

MIEMSS began migrating to narrowband operations on April 4, 2012.  On November 16, 2012 MIEMSS Communications Engineering Services completed the statewide transition to narrowband operations.  MIEMSS thanks all those in the state who supported this effort!  Below is a timeline summarizing when each MIEMSS Region was transitioned to narrowband operation.

  • April 4, 2012: Somerset, Worcester and Wicomico Counties were successfully incorporated into the Region IV EMRC and are operating in narrowband mode.
  • June 7, 2012: the MIEMSS Communications Department converted Dorchester, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, and Kent Counties to narrowband operation.  
  • September 6-7, 2012: the MIEMSS Communications Department converted Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties to narrowband operation.
  • October 3, 2012: the MIEMSS Communications Department converted Region V to narrowband operation. Counties affected were Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s.
  • November 14, 2012: the MIEMSS Communications Department converted Region III to narrowband operation. Jurisdictions affected were Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, and Howard Counties. 

Note: Once an EMSOP is moved over to narrowband mode, units operating non-narrowband capable radios will disrupt EMS radio communications.
 Counties/companies operating non- narrowband compliant equipment after January 1, 2013 will be in violation of FCC regulations and subject to FCC penalties.

Acquiring Compliant Radio Equipment

The guidelines below are for counties or individual companies that still need narrowband-capable equipment. Although the original Radio Grant Program closed in June 2012, you may still be eligible for radio equipment. If you have already spoken with your Regional Administrator, and have been asked to submit a radio request, please read below for further information. If you have not been given prior approval from your Regional Administrator to request narrowband-capable equipment from MIEMSS, please contact that Administrator to discuss your options.

If replacement narrowband-capable equipment is available from MIEMSS, this will be offered first. If funds become available for reimbursement, the same provisions from the Radio Grant Program will apply: 

  • Participants will be required to sign a “MIEMSS Radio Cost Reimbursement Grant Agreement.” Participants may be either a county, or individual company within a county, depending on how the various jurisdictions wish to proceed. 
  • MIEMSS will reimburse county, and /or volunteer companies in the county, up to a $1,300 for the purchase, and installation where appropriate, of new narrowband mobile and portable radios that meet MIEMSS specifications. 
  • The Motorola Model CDM 1550 mobile radio and the Kenwood TK 390 portable radio and mobile charger are the only radio equipment that will be reimbursed. These radios are compliant with FCC requirements and meet the operational needs of the Maryland EMS communications system. Both the portable and mobile radios are available on the state contract. (Please refer to the Two-Way Radio Equipment and Services contract through the Department of Information Technology, 060B9800015, Functional Area I as follows:
  • These radios must be programmed with the MIEMSS approved channel template.