I have a son who once was a typical teenager, which occasionally landed him in a heap of trouble with me. The biggest bone of contention involved cutting the grass. After a week, I would remind him. After two weeks, I would nag him. By the third week, I was threatening him — usually while standing ankle-deep in my lawn. By the fourth week, I was cutting the grass myself, because I knew if he did it at that point, the lawn would be littered with clumps of dead grass. I was willing to cut my son some slack. But there always came a point, usually after the second week, when his excuses became invalid. No one is that busy.

I thought about my progeny as I read senior writer Donny Jackson's story in which he reports that it likely will be another four months — at least — before the U.S. government reaches an agreement with Mexican authorities concerning the reconfiguration of 800 MHz licensees along the U.S./Mexico border. Periodically, I have cut the feds — particularly the FCC — some slack concerning the slow pace of rebanding, an unprecedented endeavor for which no playbook exists. That said, I find the lack of a Mexican rebanding agreement to be astounding, and unconscionable.

Without question, federal authorities have a lot on their plates right now. On a macro level, we have troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a faltering economy and mounting job losses. The automobile industry could well collapse. On a micro level, the FCC is dealing with two other giant, unprecedented initiatives — the digital television conversion and the proposed nationwide shared wireless broadband network — in addition to rebanding. And negotiations with the Mexican authorities, regardless of the topic, often are long and painful, the way a root canal is long and painful.

But such rationalizations only are valid for a year or two. After that, the failure to reach an agreement with Mexico ceased to be a matter of bandwidth and became one of priority. It is approaching five years since the FCC issued its order to reconfigure the 800 MHz band to put an end to the interference that plagues first-responder communications. One can earn a college degree in less time. An agreement with Mexico should have been in hand by now — no excuses. It's difficult not to think that the federal government has been asleep at the switch on this matter.

What really worries us at this point is that the negotiations with Canada were supposed to be the far easier of the two — and it took nearly four years to complete that agreement.