Public-safety agencies expecting the FCC to grant them additional time beyond July 1, 2009, to complete 800 MHz rebanding should think again, FCC representatives said last month during the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officals conference in Kansas City, Mo.

In June, the FCC granted waivers to all licensees that applied for more time to complete rebanding. Derek Poarch, chief of the FCC's public safety and homeland security bureau (PSHSB), said such a blanket waiver action would not be repeated next year.

“Time is running out, so we're not going to keep going on with waivers,” Poarch said.

Instead, Poarch said he believes most National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee (NPSPAC) licensees not located in a border region will be able to retune their systems by July 1, 2009. The FCC expects public-safety agencies to lead the effort, he said.

“Sprint wants to get this finished. I think a lot of the burden will fall on public safety to get this done,” Poarch said. “Public-safety licensees need to push their consultants and vendors. If they're having trouble, we'll be happy to help them.” (Sprint Nextel is the wireless carrier paying for rebanding.)

A number of NPSPAC licensees appear to be on track. To date, 24% of the NPSPAC licensees in waves 1, 2 and 3 have completed rebanding, and 49% have negotiated rebanding agreements with Sprint Nextel, said Joe Boyer, a representative of the 800 MHz Transition Administrator. Of the remaining licensees in the first three waves, 12% are in negotiations with Sprint Nextel, while the other 15% — 136 licensees — still are in the planning stage and have not begun negotiations.

Representatives of Motorola and Tyco Electronics M/A-COM expressed confidence that their companies have enough resources for them not to become a bottleneck to completing rebanding.

Although there has been substantial progress in rebanding the first three waves of NPSPAC licensees, Wave 4 — the wave consisting primarily of licensees located near the Canadian or Mexican borders — is a different story.

An agreement with Canada has been approved, allowing licensees in that border area to begin rebanding work in October. But there is no agreement with Mexico, meaning 800 MHz licensees along that border still must wait to get started on rebanding in earnest.

In the meantime, the FCC is doing some preliminary work to ensure that rebanding along the Mexican border can be done as quickly as possible when the international negotiations are completed.