Legal Matters

FCC meets with frequency coordinators on narrowband


This week, I participated with Part 90 frequency coordinators in a discussion with FCC personnel concerning how those licensees who have failed to narrowband their VHF and UHF systems (and did not receive a waiver) should be treated.

As you may recall, the coordinators (through the Land Mobile Communications Council) told the FCC that they would treat such systems as non-existent beginning February 1, 2013. In response, the FCC requested some amendment to that position.

The FCC reports that, as of this moment, most systems are in compliance. However, the Commission continues to receive waiver requests, which they are sorting through. Given the huge number of applications still pending with the commission, this process will likely take several months to conclude. Until that process has been completed, and pending further review of the situation by the FCC, the commission has asked the coordinators to treat these non-compliant systems as if they are narrowband systems.

In addition, the commission reports that they are working on establishing a single point of contact for narrowbanding-related enforcement issues. Further, the commission is discussing a methodology to conduct a licensee audit to determine whether non-compliant licensees are still in operation (and in what format) or whether their licenses should be cancelled.

These steps are positive ones towards ensuring compliance and maximizing spectrum for new systems. However, licensees who were unable to timely comply are encouraged by the FCC to still file waiver requests.

What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below.

Alan Tilles is counsel to hundreds of entities in the wireless industry. He is a partner in the law firm of Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker and can be reached at or on Twitter @landmobilelaw.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Roger Holst (not verified)
on Jan 18, 2013

I worked until late New Years eve to get the very last customer's license narrowbanded and now the LMCC and FCC wants to give them extra time? How gutless this country has become.

Tom O'Keefe (not verified)
on Jan 18, 2013

Hi Roger! I agree. It's time for the FCC to step up to the plate and concentrate on enforcement. It will be interesting to see how many interference issues there will be. There are licensees that have updated their licenses to be compliant but have not built out their systems and are still operating wide-band (25 Khz). The window of opportunity has been long and has passed. In these difficult economic times the only basis for a waiver at this point in my opinion is a lack of funding that is preventing the licensee from upgrading their equipment to narrow-band either analog or digital.

Jim Funkhouser (not verified)
on Jan 21, 2013

I spent over 80,000.00 dollars to become compliant with the FCC and my equipment. I thought or was leed to belive that there was a deadline and now there isn't. Give my mony back and thousanda of other compaines their mony back. I belive this will be more harmfull for the FCC to not take a firm stand on the inforcement of the rules or is there realy any rules??!!!!! NOT A DEADLINE !!!!!!

Pizzaguy (not verified)
on Jan 21, 2013

Looks like +90% of licensees were the fools. But, at least it gave a nice boost to the two-way industry.

on Jan 22, 2013

As of 1/1/2013, did the FCC license machine begin sending out new licenses showing that the wideband allocations have been removed from all existing licenses? Or that they now have an expired license? There is nothing quicker to get issues like this resolved than the Chief or Sheriff getting a letter in the mail telling them that they no longer have a license to operate. I know that in our community, there were millions of dollars, "blood, sweat, and tears" shed on compliance. For the FCC to not take immediate action on those that have not reallocated resources to be compliant or have submitted a plan to be complaint, opens up an even larger hole in the ability to provide regulatory enforcement that we depend on. They need to turn on the printers and start acting.

on Jan 25, 2013

I'm not sure if I understood the article the same way that most appear to have read it. I thought that the FCC was saying to the Frequency Coordinators to not consider the systems to be gone so as not to assign spectrum where users are still active. If the FCC has several months of backlogs to determine whether someone is still in compliance, then the user should not be faulted; if the case is strictly that they blew it off, them go after them. Had the FCC used some forethought, they would have made the original deadline for waivers well ahead of the compliance date and hired some temporary people to get through the mire that is the government. This is a multi billion dollar issue and requires logistics within the same order of magnitude. There is likely blame due on both sides of this fence.

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Alan Tilles

Alan Tilles is counsel to numerous entities in the private radio and Internet industries. He is a partner in the law firm of Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker and can be reached at atilles@...
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