New York City’s police department anticipates it will ask the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) during the next three months for a waiver that will allow it to avoid narrowbanding its existing UHF radio system by the deadline that is 15 months away, according to an official with the department.

“We want to address that issue [a waiver request] with the FCC in the relatively near future,” said Charles Dowd, a deputy chief with the New York Police Department (NYPD). “We have not gone to the FCC yet, but it is our intention to do so.”

Dowd said the subject of narrowbanding — the FCC mandate that radio systems operating below 512 MHz transition from 25 kHz channels to 12.5 kHz channels by Jan. 1, 2013, which could cost NYPD more than $100 million — was discussed today by a committee of the New York City Council during a hearing focused on the need for a 700 MHz LTE system dedicated to public safety. During the hearing, committee members expressed support for allocating financial resources to deploy broadband technology rather than expend more money on the department’s UHF narrowband network, he said.

“Why would we invest in a technology that, in our view, ultimately will go away?” Dowd said. “I think, in these tough times, clearly [the committee members’] preference is that we invest in future technologies.”

This approach is not new, as Dowd has been expressing this sentiment for more than two years, while many in the public-safety industry have speculated how long it will take for a mission-critical voice application over LTE to be available for first-responder use.

Meanwhile, FCC officials have reiterated that LMR systems operating below 512 MHz will be deemed to be in violation of agency rules if they are not narrowbanded by Jan. 1, 2013. David Furth, deputy chief of the FCC’s public safety and homeland security bureau, recently stated that the agency is requesting that any narrowbanding waiver requests be submitted before the end of year.

“I would fully expect that we should have something on that well before the end of the year,” Dowd said.