View from the Top

Enough ...


By Mark Crosby, President/CEO of the Enterprise Wireless Alliance

No one should be surprised that the FCC has announced that effective April 1, 2014, they will no longer accept license renewal applications in the 150-470 MHz bands that specify a non-compliant wideband emission designator, an indication that the system in operation exceeds the maximum acceptable channel bandwidth of 12.5 kHz.  What is surprising is that this Commission advisory announcement was issued at such a late date (the narrowbanding deadline was January 1, 2013!) and that there would be any licensees left out there that don’t know any better that would even attempt to renew a license with the non-compliant 20K0F3E emission designator.   I guess stranger things have happened.

There are a few exceptions to this get tough policy, one of which is the presence of a waiver that was issued to extend the compliance deadline.   There can’t be too many of those that still have an extended expiration date out there.  Waiver requests suggesting lack of funding, lack of technicians, lack of time, lack of motivation, lack of interest or other such impediments were routinely granted by the FCC. A  few licensees even requested and received multiple narrowband deadline extensions. The FCC’s Public Notice doesn’t exactly come out and state it, but I suspect that the FCC is not interested in receiving any further “please extend my deadline” waiver requests.  

Of note, the FCC said that any application that proposes to replace a wideband emission designator with a compliant emission designator (there are over 40 of those) would be accepted and processed. There was no language in the FCC’s notice that such tardiness would be subject to an enforcement action.  I guess we are assuming that such licensees actually narrowbanded  their systems, but never got around to updating their license. Makes sense, yes? Maybe? Don’t ask, don’t tell?

With the advancement of digital technologies in the 150-470 MHz band, there are many emission designators that evidence voice and data capabilities that are just fine occupying  bandwidths of 12.5 kHz and less. These emission designators start with numbers that are either 4, 7, 8, or 11.  You can’t miss them.  There are a few other narrowband –equivalent  compliant systems that have emission designators  with number starting with either 20, 21, or 22. These are either TETRA systems or extremely efficient data-only systems. There aren’t that many of these in the 150-470 MHz bands, probably less than a handful.

The FCC stated that there are potential enforcement consequences of unauthorized wideband operations or falsely claiming narrowband status while continuing wideband operations. We have reported this threat previously, although we are unaware of a single instance where a licensee was fined for not being narrowband compliant. There may have been, but one would think the FCC would have wanted to publicly announce such an action to set an example. We haven’t heard anything , and  we don’t expect to as the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has bigger fish to fry.

Finally, the FCC suggested that licensees who still have authorizations for systems that are no longer in operation should cancel those authorizations.  For those that may  fall under this scenario, this is great advice. Please cancel such licenses as they unnecessarily clutter up databases. If after April 1, 2014, there are still licenses that list only a non-narrowband compliant emission designator, we should assume they are no longer operational. Enough with the threats, terminate the licenses.  

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