Emergency responders in the county will soon be utilizing narrowband radios after the Board of Supervisors approved the upgrades Monday with a $76,466 price tag.

Earlier this year, the Philadelphia police and fire departments switched over to narrowband at a cost of $56,000 and $54,000 respectively.

The change means that traditional scanners will no longer be able to pick up the signals from the first responders.

The switch to narrowband stems from a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) order in December 2004 that requires all licensees operating on wideband to change over to narrowband by Jan. 1, 2013.

Narrowband communication systems are different from wideband because they use a smaller frequency range (bandwidth).

Neshoba County Emergency Management Director Jeff Mayo told supervisors on Monday that the narrowband compliance upgrade project would affect six county departments: volunteer fire, road, EMS, sheriff, 911 center and emergency management.

The overall project includes new repeaters and both stationary and portable radios among other technology.

The project will also include infrastructure to go to digital transmission and also to provide encryption for law enforcement so that signals can't easily be understood by unauthorized people, Coats said.

The largest expense of the project will be in the road department at $19,051, followed by fire at $17,779 and Sheriff at $14,554.

Coats told supervisors on Monday that they had been talking about the changeover for about four years.

"Now it is time," he said. "We feel comfortable that this is the standard."

According to the federal ruling, if systems were not updated by the 2013 deadline, a $16,000 fine would be charged each day.

The new Motorola equipment will be purchased from Com-South of Meridian at the state contract price, Coats said.

About $17,000 in State Fire Insurance Rebate funds will be utilized for the project. The remainder will be lease-purchased.

The changeover will not have a large impact on communication except that it will free up available frequencies and provide a clearer signal.