UHF and VHF systems that have not complied with the FCC’s narrowbanding mandate at the end of the year would risk having their spectrum be used by others, if the FCC adopts the frequency-coordination recommendation of the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC).

According to the LMCC recommendation, non-compliant licensees in the 150-470 MHz bands “shall not be considered by the FCC’s certified frequency advisory committees for purposes of identifying frequency assignments for use within land mobile systems absent a pending modification application evidencing narrowbanding compliance or a pending or granted waiver request that seeks an extension of the Jan. 1, 2013, narrowbanding deadline.”

Under the FCC’s narrowbanding mandate, UHF and VHF systems must transition from 25 kHz channels to 12.5 kHz channels by the end of this year. To date, the FCC only has indicated that licensees failing to narrowband would be in violation of the agency’s rules and subject to enforcement penalties. The FCC also has stated that violations would be cited only a complaint basis.

While it would need the FCC’s blessing, the LMCC recommendation could be a very helpful incentive to get affected licensees to complete the narrowbanding process, according to Mark Crosby, president and CEO of the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA).

“If the FCC approves it, the people who have not narrowbanded are technically non-entities,” Crosby said. “When it comes to frequency coordination, we can ignore them.”

Waiver recipients and licensees that have an application or waiver pending at the FCC would not be ignored, Crosby said. Thus far, governmental entities in the St. Louis area and Delta Airlines have received FCC extensions to complete narrowbanding, and all T-Band systems have been waived from having to narrowband.

Crosby said he has heard speculation that as many as 40% of all licensees impacted by narrowbanding have not completed the process.

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“You can threaten these guys with admonishments and fine, and we see how well that’s working,” Crosby said. “But, if you threaten them that they will lose their investment in their communications system because they’re a non-entity — and, if they give interference, they have no place to turn — that would seem to be a motivating factor to … get [narrowbanding] done.”

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