If your organization uses two-way radios, you have an FCC license, which includes assignment of a call sign. There are basic management protocols and obligations for each call sign held by any organization. These include filing emission modifications, such as those required for narrowbanding, and performing basic records maintenance, such as construction notifications.

Most of these activities can be performed through the FCC's on-line ULS (Universal Licensing System); however, doing this work also requires careful and consistent monitoring of FCC rulings and a good understanding of ULS.

Many organizations choose to entrust these tasks to a staff member, who may or may not have specialized FCC knowledge, or to EWA's license management department.

"Our spectrum is our oxygen. It's like the engine in a car. It's literally one of the most important items in our business. EWA is our lifeline for the regulatory side of the business," points out license management customer Rich Lacouette, who is president of New York Communications Co.

"With EWA, they're looking at the whole picture: regulatory, compliance and upcoming changes," Lacouette continues. "They communicate with us about when to pay attention and look up from the thousand things we're doing on a daily basis. And boom! They are there, telling us to pay attention to something that needs attention now."

Paying attention at the right moment is important, because compliance changes can occur that may be missed unless that staff member is checking the FCC database for notifications on a regular basis. Actions and filings that must be performed on a specific date, such as renewals and construction notifications, run the risk of being missed if the staff member is on vacation or leaves the organization, and fails to transfer their responsibilities to someone new.

Accountability for these actions, according to the FCC, resides with the license holder, no matter what individual may be responsible. Large fines have been issued against organizations that, through a lapse in administrative diligence, did not perform a filing on time. With the increased complexities of narrowbanding and the potential for interference due to possible non-compliance with that FCC order, on-staff administrators need to be even more aware of the rules.

Many EWA members choose to invest a few dollars a week — or roughly the cost of a cappuccino every day, as one member has described it — to enlist EWA's license management services to protect and manage their spectrum assets.

While the cost is minimal and users can choose to self-manage or hire an employee to handle the tasks, EWA members say that license management is worth the minor monthly fees — especially in this climate of rapid regulatory changes — in order to avoid penalties, fines, service interruptions and possible loss of license.

Joe Gately, with Gately Communications, uses EWA's license management services to monitor emissions on customers' licenses, to get visibility on what is pending — which is important given the possible FCC backlogs — and basically to ensure that "things are done right the first time, so they don't have to be done over again."