An official for the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS) has requested that the FCC take “immediate action” on a longstanding LA-RICS waiver request to use 700 MHz reserve channels for its new P25 network to prevent “substantial delays” and “significant costs” in the deployment of the LMR system.

LA-RICS submitted a waiver request in December 2012—more than 18 months ago, although the filing did not appear on the FCC web site until January 2013—to get FCC permission to utilize all 96 channels in the 700 MHz reserve spectrum to support its new P25 network, Mallon stated in the letter. The 700 MHz LMR system is being built to provide mission-critical voice communications that will be lost when LA-RICS has to vacate its T-Band spectrum from 470-512 MHz early next decade as part of the legislation from Congress that created FirstNet two years ago.

In a letter that was posted on the FCC web site yesterday, LA-RICS Executive Director Pat Mallon acknowledged that issues associated with the waiver request are part of a pending proceeding to address the FCC’s narrowbanding rules for public-safety 700 MHz narrowband spectrum but said “LA-RICS can no longer wait for a decision in that rulemaking proceeding” at this stage of the P25 deployment.

 “The detailed design is scheduled to be completed by September 2014,” Mallon wrote in the letter to the FCC. “Indeed, we have reached a critical juncture in system design and engineering at which we must know all of the specific frequencies that will be available for deployment.

“Absent an immediate ruling from the commission, LA-RICS will be forced to proceed with a system design that includes only currently allotted channels. While a subsequent grant of the LA-RICS request (or a rule modification) would obviously be welcome, it would create substantial delays and incur significant additional design costs for LA-RICS.”

Narrowband reserve channels at 700 MHz were first established in 1998, when there was “still uncertainty regarding the specific demands and uses for various segments of the 700 MHz narrowband spectrum,” LA-RICS stated in its initial waiver request.

“The apparent purpose of the relevant rule was to reserve certain narrowband channels to address future requirements,” the LA-RICS waiver request stated. “LA-RICS has presented just such a requirement.”

LA-RICS had planned to enhance its UHF public-safety narrowband system on T-Band spectrum when Congress passed the law that tasked FirstNet to build a nationwide 700 MHz broadband system and required public-safety agencies to vacate their T-Band frequencies by 2021, according to the original waiver filing by LA-RICS.