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450-470 MHz band alignment

Band alignment will mean that licensees will be given new frequency assignments, in the 450-470 MHz band, on which to operate. Some new assignments may be in the 440-450 MHz band. Equipment will need to be retuned (possibly including hardware modification) or replaced in order to operate on the new frequencies. Possible changes to equipment include modification of base/mobile radio transceivers, change of base-station site equipment (e.g. filters, antennas, combiners and duplexers) and recall of mobile fleet/hand portables for reprogramming.

Where analogue equipment needs to be replaced, radio users may have the opportunity to purchase digital equipment. Such equipment may provide users with additional functionality, enabling them to expand their business or provide a new service.

Scheduling any of the changes to equipment, within tolerable levels of disruption, will be an important consideration. For some radio users there may be a time frame that could make the change to a new frequency more feasible. For example, if the radio service is only in operation during the week, alignment could take place at the weekend; alternatively, alignment could be co-ordinated when the radio service is out of action for routine maintenance. It is conceivable that some users could change frequency remotely ‘over the air’. However, RA notes that this will not be possible for all users, as national networks and other essential radio services need to be in operation on a 24-hour basis. In these circumstances, RA will offer advice to individuals and companies in providing solutions to these difficulties. It is RA’s responsibility to manage the interference environment during alignment transitions; RA will therefore enforce a strict implementation plan, working in partnership with radio site engineers and users.

4.5What will band alignment mean for everyone else?

Radio suppliers and dealers will play a key part in the alignment process, as they will need to be prepared to plan appropriate solutions for their customers’ radio systems. For most users, it is unlikely that manufacturers will need to produce specific equipment as a direct result of alignment. However, alignment provides an opportunity to introduce pan-European equipment. Through a centrally managed process, site managers (who also have a key role to play in the process) will need to co-ordinate the retuning or replacement of base stations with their customers and with other users on the same site and nearby sites. All those involved will be given time to plan their changeover, in terms of when they should align or whether they wish to use an alternative band or find an alternative solution (such as short-term hire or GSM).

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