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Public-safety radio frequencies get support from Mikulski


Howard County's push for new, more-powerful frequencies for its public-safety radios will get an extra nudge from U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, she said after meeting with county officials last week.

The county's application for the radio frequencies -- which would allow 15 new channels for police, firefighters and other county workers -- is pending before the Federal Communications Commission.

"I can't tell them to decide yes or no, but I can tell them to decide," Mikulski said Friday, after meeting with County Executive Charles I. Ecker and other county officials for more than an hour. The conversation covered several other subjects.

The FCC originally awarded the channels to the city government of Washington in 1984, but a communications system was never built to use them.

Howard County applied for the rights to the same channels in April 1995 and has since been fighting for the frequencies -- which Washington still wants.

The county's current radio frequencies are lower in the radio spectrum, less powerful and more prone to interference than the sought channels. Ecker said county police have trouble talking with other jurisdictions.

"We can't talk next door, but we can talk to New Jersey sometimes," Ecker said after the meeting with Mikulski.

Pub Date: 12/15/96

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