FCC Readies Order on 700 MHz Narrowbanding Deadline (8/8/14)
Friday, August 08, 2014 | Comments

By Sandra Wendelken
An FCC official said the commission plans to release a report and order on several 700 MHz items, including extending or eliminating the 700 MHz narrowbanding date “in the very near future.”

David Furth, deputy director of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB), said the commission is preparing the order, which will address the current 700 MHz deadline of Jan. 1, 2017. Furth made the remarks at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International conference Aug 5.

In 2013, the FCC proposed updating the 700 MHz narrowband technical rules, which were adopted in 1998 as part of the digital TV transition. The updated rules would include whether to open the 700 MHz reserve channels to licensing as well.

The order also would address a National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) proposal to allow temporary mobile use. Also under consideration are whether to allow air-to-ground applications and to require certification of Project 25 (P25) equipment use, because they are interoperability channels.

Louisiana received a waiver of the 700 MHz narrowbanding deadline, and several others including Arkansas have submitted waiver requests to the FCC, but requests are still pending. Several APCO attendees said many officials are frustrated because they don’t know how to move forward with equipment purchases until the deadline issue is resolved.

Furth acknowledged the pending waiver petitions, but said the FCC prefers to rule on the 700 MHz narrowbanding deadline in an order rather than through petitions.

“All I can tell you is that we are pressing upon the commission, and we don’t discourage you from pressing on the commission that this deadline is closer than it looks,” Furth said. “We understand licensees have to make decisions.”

Regarding licensees that are out of compliance with the VHF/UHF Jan. 1, 2013, narrowbanding deadline, Furth said the commission has performed some checks of its licensing database, but it’s difficult to determine compliance. “We rely on coordinators and complaints from licensees about other licensees that aren’t in compliance,” he said. “So if there are licensees that you are aware of out there that aren’t in compliance that you want to bring to our attention, that would be helpful. To survey all the systems out there is beyond our resources, so we’re using the tools we have.”

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