Despite a flurry of last-minute narrowbanding applications filed before the FCC’s Dec. 31 deadline, many public-safety LMR systems have not taken the necessary actiosn to update their spectrum licenses from operating on 25 kHz channels to 12.5 kHz channels, according to sources.

Farokh Latif, director of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) frequency-coordination unit, said that an FCC official told him last week that an estimated 20,000 public-safety licenses had not filed updated narrowbanding applications.

For those licensees that missed the deadline, Latif said the best strategy would be to complete the application process as quickly as possible.

“For those people who haven’t done anything with their licenses, I would do it now,” Latif said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “Because, if they do it three months later, they may be subject to enforcement.”

Licensees’ knowledge of the FCC’s narrowbanding deadline resulted in a record number of applications being filed with APCO during the latter portion of 2012, Latif said.

“We had been getting a constant stream of narrowbanding apps, but it really started picking up by mid-November, and we were quite busy throughout the month of December,” he said. “We haven’t had a December like this ever. If I had to put a number on it, I would say that there were at least 600-700 in the month of December alone.”

There also was significant activity among business-industrial users. Mark Crosby, the president/CEO of the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA), said that his organization received 1,552 narrowbanding applications from business-industrial users that were put on an industry list of pending applications submitted by frequency coordinators last week.

“Easily, there are 2,500-3,000 licenses pending from business industrial [among all frequency coordinators],” Crosby said.