FCC clarifies narrowbanding-application rules
Licensees impacted by the UHF/VHF narrowbanding mandate that becomes effective in three weeks can meet the FCC’s application requirements by filing the application by the deadline at the end of the month, even if it is not processed until next year, according to a press release from the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC).
Both the FCC wireless-telecommunications bureau and homeland-security bureau informed the LMCC that “licensees that have completed narrowbanding, or will complete narrowbanding by the January 1, 2013, deadline, but have not yet had their applications coordinated and will not have had their applications coordinated and submitted to the commission by the deadline, will not be regarded as being in violation of the deadline,” according to the release.
On Nov. 9, the LMCC asked the FCC for clarification on this matter, because frequency coordinators expected a flurry of applications before the narrowbanding deadline. The LMCC recommended that frequency advisory committees prepare a list of all applications that they received on or before Dec. 31 that were not yet filed with the FCC. These lists will be submitted to the FCC and to all frequency coordinators by Jan. 3.
The FCC approved this recommended procedure, which should be beneficial to all parties involved with the narrowbanding effort, according to Mark Crosby, secretary/treasurer of the LMCC.
“That’s good, because we don’t want people to throw up their hands, because they didn’t get to the apps, and go, ‘To heck with it, because I’m not going to hit the deadline,'” Crosby said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “Now, you can get your apps in, and you’ll be OK, because we’re going to make the presumption that your systems are narrowbanded. We want those apps in.”
Crosby did not express concern that some licensees might file narrowbanding applications to avoid enforcement action, even if their systems had not transitioned from 25 kHz channels to the 12.5 kHz — or equivalent — channels.
“If they do that, I think they’re at risk eventually, from all kinds of sources,” Crosby said.
Crosby also serves as the president/CEO of the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA). In this capacity, he spoke with FCC officials informally last week about provisions in the agency’s Nov. 30 order that calls for frequency coordinators to treat non-compliant systems as if they had narrowbanded their systems. Based on his conversations with the FCC, Crosby expressed optimism that the commission will clarify and amend its order consistent with the LMCC’s request that non-compliant licensees be treated as if they do not exist for frequency-coordination purposes, which would allow other applicants to use the spectrum.
“I don’t know how they will address the discrepancy, but they told us they’re going to address it,” he said.
Early last week, the LMCC asked that the FCC reconsider the manner in which non-compliant licensees should be treated by frequency coordinators after the narrowbanding deadline passes.