Nacogdoches Co. meets deadline to convert emergency radios

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Trucks belonging to Nacogdoches County volunteer fire departments lined up as firefighters had radios and scanners set to the same wave length.

A quick link to a laptop completes a 'narrow band conversion', exactly what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) expects by the end of the year.

"The FCC has run out of frequencies," said Ed Crockett, a spokesman for Nalcom Communications. "They (FCC) started this several years ago and what they're actually doing is cutting the spectrum in half so they can ad more channels for other entities as they come on line."

Today's conversion prevents emergency service providers from losing vital communication links.

"It will do away with dead spots in the county," explained Rodney Whitaker, a safety officer for Lilbert-Looneyville Volunteer Fire Department. "We will be able to receive our pages better, therefore when you call 911 we will be dispatched immediately."

In addition to the conversion, changes were made to lessen the annoying occurrence of skip, when calls from outside the service area sneak in.

Scanner listeners will notice no change.

"All of the scanner world does not need to worry," assured Crockett. "They will still receive all their transmissions they are receiving today."

The FCC rule change came in 2004. Nacogdoches County narrowly met the December 31st deadline, but so did other counties. Conversions have kept communication workers busy for at least the last six months.

Nacogdoches County reports the next phase of progress will be the installation of simulcast channels to increase communication in rural areas of the county.

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