The action never stops
From rebanding to narrowbanding to mergers, it seems like we’re involved in a recession-resistant industry. Let’s take a brief look at the action:
800 MHz rebanding
Canadian border licensees are beginning to submit their cost estimates for rebanding. There have been some frequency allocation issues to deal with and quick resolution to a number of deals is being impeded by border licensees needing a much higher level of participation in the allocation/status update process than their non-border brethren. The city of Houston decision by the FCC on replacement of Motorola Maxtrac radios provides additional guidance on this issue.
Meanwhile, the Transition Administrator (TA) has released additional cost metric information. I have been a longtime advocate of all parties having access to the same information, and it appears that the message finally is being heard. What remains to be seen is the final make-up of the TA. BearingPoint has declared bankruptcy and is being sold to Deloitte and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The TA portion of BearingPoint’s business is going to Deloitte. This transition might mean some significant changes in how the rebanding process works, but it is too soon to tell.
150/450 MHz narrowbanding
As crunch time for narrowbanding nears, misinformation continues. Let’s tamp down two recent miscommunications right now. First, if a licensee is staying at the same transmitter location, and not changing any parameters of the license other than bandwidth, there is no need to reduce ERP to comply with the safe harbor table. Licensees remaining at their site and not changing other technical parameters are grandfathered. Second, there is no need to rush to your favorite frequency coordinator to narrowband your license until you’re ready to narrowband. Apparently, someone got the impression that if you don’t, you won’t be able to continue to be licensed on your existing frequency. Perhaps the longer one waits limits the possibility of additional spectrum, but the contrary argument is that there’s a sweet spot when licensees have amended their licenses in your area for narrower bandwidth, which might free up some offset frequency possibilities for new licensees. It’s difficult to know when that would be, so it would behoove licensees seeking additional spectrum in the bands to periodically review local use.
Part 22 common carrier frequencies
Licensees who obtained Part 22 economic area 25 kHz paired channels in the 150 and 450 MHz bands in Auction 40 and Auction 48 now must be constructed. Given the number of public-safety licensees who obtained, and continue to file, waivers to use this lightly used paging spectrum, it seems like a reasonable time for the commission to revisit the previously denied Icom petition to reassign this spectrum (and grandfather existing licensees).
Tyco Electronics Wireless Systems sale to Harris
Harris is a major player in defense, and many hope that this will mean more competition from a major player in public-safety communications. Since the former M/A-COM’s beginnings as part of GE, the industry has seen it as a poor stepchild. This acquisition may quickly change that view.
What’s the latest idea for the D block? There seems to be a new one every day. Clearly, we are not near a decision, but public safety’s best and brightest need cohesion in reaching a consensus view. Perhaps by the time it’s done, we’ll actually have the conversion to digital television completed.
Alan Tilles is counsel to numerous entities in the private radio and Internet industries. He is a partner in the law firm of Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker and can be reached at [email protected].