ORLANDO--A top Transition Administrator (TA) official unveiled a new procedure designed to accelerate the process associated with rebanding licensees’ requests for planning funding hours after the FCC granted the TA additional authority in the rebanding process.

In a presentation at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) winter summit, TA Director Brett Haan said the TA will take a more active role in the processing of planning-funding requests. “The goal is to make sure planning funding moves quickly, efficiently and fairly through the system,” Haan said.

Previously, licensees seeking planning funding initially have submitted their requests to Sprint Nextel, but many public-safety officials have complained that the carrier has been slow in responding to the request or has sought an unwarranted amount of detail in estimates.

Under the new guidelines, licensees will submit the planning-funding request to the TA, which will determine whether the request includes sufficient detail and give the TA “100% visibility” into the process, Haan said. Once a request is deemed to be detailed enough, the TA will send the request to Sprint Nextel.

If a planning-funding agreement is not reached within 60 days, the TA will recommend—or mandate, if the licensee is in the mandatory negotiation period—mediation to resolve the planning-funding dispute.

“I think the initial TA review allows us to address any possible misinterpretations of TA policy from the licensee’s perspective. It clearly gives the TA more active involvement in tracking and monitoring,” Haan said. “And I think giving the time parameters is good … it gives [licensees] certainty and gives them a path to look down the road.”

Licensees with a pending planning-funding request can submit the request to the TA, but they are not required to do so, Haan said.

“We’re not trying to create additional work for anyone,” he said.

Haan’s presentation was made on the same day that the FCC released a letter stating that the TA “has broad discretion” to adjust scheduled milestones and deadlines, as long as the rebanding process is completed in the commission’s 36-month timeframe.

“In short, the FCC is saying to the TA, ‘Do what is best in the public interest’ … We welcome that,” Haan said. “I think the commission letter clarified for all stakeholders, ‘Here’s what the commission is directing the TA to do,’ so that the TA can act quickly, efficiently and fairly to address individual concerns that may come up.”