Citizens Band radio users have awakened to a new day - as of today they can call up their good buddies on the new 40-channel CB sets.
The problem is finding a new set ot purchase today - or in the next few days.
Not only are many stores closed today, but many retailers said yesterday that the new models, which offer an increase of 17 channels, are still being shipped and that they "hope" to get then in during the coming week.
Still other retail outlets said they are not expecting to stock the new models until February or March.
"My view is that there will be a shortage through the first quarter of the year," said John Sodolski, vic president of the Electronics Industries Association, a trade group.
Industry has been struggling to meet at it expects will be a heavy demand.
"We've going like crazy," said a spokesman for one manufacturer. "We're producing them as fast as we can."
Sodolski said delays also have stemmed from a tightening of "technical characteristics" (anti-interference standards) on the new sets by the Federal Communications Commission.
"Of some 500-plus CB models, 250-plus have been approved by theFCC," he said. "Not every manufacturer is qualifying every set in his line. In some cases, the lead models have not been approved."
There also have been delays in shipping. The CB makers originally were told that they could not ship the new sets until today, a ruling that only recently was changed to allow shipping on Dec. 31.
Many CB users seem unconcerned about the delays.
"There's no peer pressure to run out and buy a 40-channel set," Sololski said. "I'm not going to get a '40' for a while. I'm happy with my '23.'"
"I just bought a '23,'" said a Virginia man who works in a radio store, adding that he did not think the new sets would be as "powerful."
An inducemen to buying the 23-channel sets is a sharp reduction in prices, from 40 to 60 per cent in many stores.
Some of these sets can be converted to 40-channel use, though that requires returning them to the manufacturer, a process that could take several weeks.
Another change affecting CB users is suspension today of the $4 license fee. The FCC is studying the legality of its fee structure in light of a recent court ruling that various FCC fees imposed since 1970 have been improper.
CBers still must apply for licenses, however: And they are doing so at the rate of 400,000 a month, bringing the number of licensed CB usersto 7.8 million.