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Chicomm Blog

As The FCC Deadline Approaches, 37,000 Still Haven't Narrowbanded

Posted by Jill McNamara on Friday, September 28, 2012

As noted in my previous blog, I moderated a Narrowbanding Panel at the APCO Annual Conference on August 21.  Roberto Mussenden, the FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau point of contact for narrowbanding, pointed out that there has been a lot of progress by licensees. Both the total number and the percent of public safety licensees that are still licensed at 25 kHz-only operation have been more than cut in half over the last two years. However, there are still about 35%, or roughly 37,000, licenses in the FCC database that are 25 kHz emission-only licenses.

     If you are one of these, you need to immediately submit to the FCC either (1) a license modification application to include 12.5 kHz or better emission designators, or (2) a waiver request to continue operating temporarily at 25 kHz beyond the Jan.  1, 2013 deadline.  The only exceptions are 12.kHz or 6.25 kHz equivalent efficient systems that operate on 25 kHz channels. Roberto emphasized that last-minute waiver requests will “be viewed with skepticism and not likely granted.” He also urged licensees to check their license data in the database and advise the FCC licensing bureau if there are any errors.  Finally, he let the attendees know that the FCC Enforcement Bureau will soon issue guidance reminding licensees of their obligation and of the FCC’s intent to aggressively enforce the mandate. That FCC Enforcement Advisory No. 2012-05 was indeed issued on August 22.

     The Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) Board of Directors, of which I am a member representing TIA, met on Sept. 12 with FCC staff to address this and other outstanding issues.  Here is the latest feedback from that meeting by FCC staff responsible for narrowbanding.

  1. At some time after the deadline, the FCC will likely conduct an audit of remaining 25 kHz licensees to confirm that they are narrowband compliant.  Licensees not properly answering the audit letter will have their licenses cancelled.
  2. As mentioned in the last blog, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) requested and is still waiting for the FCC to clarify that it will include and accept 25 kHz mode in new applications for equipment certifications to operate in the 470-512 MHz T-Band.  The FCC is drafting a decision to be routed to all three bureaus, and expects to have such decision issued by the end of October.
  3. The FCC has not yet made a decision on LMCC’s proposal that, effective Feb. 1, 2013, frequency coordinators will no longer consider non-compliant 25 kHz narrowbanded systems still operating in Part 90 VHF (150-174 MHz) and UHF (421-470 MHz) channels for purposes of identifying exclusive frequency assignments within centralized trunked systems, absent evidence of license applications or waivers seeking an extension of the narrowbanding deadline.

The FCC plans to issue additional Public Notices (PN) soon, once again reiterating the Jan. 1, 2013 deadline requirements and consequences.  It will likely also address these and other requested clarifications in such PNs.

Al Ittner discussed Narrowbanding from APCO 2012 in Minneapolis. Watch the video.

Al IttnerAl Ittner is Senior Manager of Spectrum Strategy at Motorola Solutions, Inc.


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