Many Narrowbanding Waiver Requests Still Waiting for FCC Rulings (12/18/12)
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 | Comments

The FCC is still working on many of the filed waiver requests from the VHF and UHF narrowbanding deadline set for Dec. 31.

Of the four waiver requests that St. Paul, Minn.-based consulting engineer Leonard Koehnen filed on behalf of clients, two have been granted. The other two licensees haven’t heard from the FCC. The two granted where filed in late August and early September. The two that are still waiting were filed in July and November. “Interestingly, the FCC is not working on them in a date order of when each waiver was submitted,” Koehnen said.

The FCC has shown that it will deny VHF and UHF narrowbanding waiver requests that are based soley on a lack of funds. Lake Tahoe, Calif.’s request for a two-year extension was denied in August. “Based on the record before us, we conclude that Lake Tahoe has not presented sufficient facts to meet the high standard for grant of the request waiver,” the order said. “While we are sympathetic to Lake Tahoe’s fiscal situation, it has failed to show that its circumstances are sufficiently unique or unusual to meet the waiver standard.”

When Koehnen spoke with someone at the FCC, he was told that the systems not granted waivers are typically systems where people did nothing to comply and offered lame excuses. “If you’re showing you’ve spent some money, you’re contracted and you’re heading in that direction, they’ve been granting them,” he said.

The FCC has granted most waiver requests. The commission has put some waiver requests on public notice, but FCC staff is notifying other licensees directly. Both of Koehnen’s waiver recipients were notified via a faxed letter.

Koehnen’s November waiver request was filed after a construction scheduling delay with the delivery of a radio building that forced the narrowband transition into next year, he said.

FCC officials said that after the deadline non-narrowbanded licensees will have no protection from interference, and an exclusive license could be coordinated on top of a non-narrowbanded license.

“There’s going to be a lot of people out there that aren’t in compliance,” Koehnen said. “They’re either oblivious or ill prepared or thumbing their nose at the system. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.”

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