Manufacturers serving public-safety agencies operating LMR systems on T-Band spectrum in the 470-512 MHz swath should be allowed to develop new products that use 25 kHz channels, according to a recent filing from the National Public-Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC).

Most LMR systems operating below 512 MHz have to narrowband their systems from 25 kHz channels to 12.5 kHz channels by the end of the year, but the FCC granted a blanket waiver from this mandate to T-Band users. The waiver was granted after Congress passed a law in February that calls for public-safety agencies to vacate the T-Band frequencies in nine years, so entities would not have to pay to narrowband networks that would have to be scrapped in less than a decade.

While the FCC waiver was welcomed by T-Band users, it did not address the type of equipment that manufacturers could provide for the spectrum. Under the FCC narrowbanding rules, manufacturers are prohibited from including 25 kHz channel efficiency in new products.

With this in mind, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) filed a petition asking that manufacturers be allowed to offer new products for T-Band system, something NPSTC supports in its filing.

“It tries to match equipment capability — even for new products — with the flexibility that is provided through the blanket waiver,” said Stu Overby, co-chairman of NPSTC’s T-Band working group and vice chairman of NPSTC’s spectrum management committee.

If the FCC does not grant the request, public-safety agencies operating in the T-Band could see a dwindling supply of radio choices and replacement parts as the deadline to move out of the T-Band approaches, according to the NPSTC filing.

“Unless the commission clarifies that it is also waiving the ban on the inclusion of 25 kHz efficiency in T-Band equipment authorization applications filed on or after Jan. 1, 2011, the possibility not only exists but becomes increasingly likely in the near future that T-Band licensees will need newly-certified equipment during the interim period,” the filing states. “Without such waiver clarification, manufacturers will not be able to introduce new equipment in the T-Band that includes 25 kHz efficiency …

“Licensees continuing to operate in 25 kHz will thereby also not have access to improved features and functionality provided by new equipment introduced into the public safety market. NPSTC supports TIA’s argument that it would not be in the public interest if licensees face a dangerous prospect of reduced equipment availability and capabilities.”

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