An extension for narrowbanding?

Deltek Analyst Kristin Howe reports.

On November 15, Representative Steve Rothman (D–NJ–9) introduced House Resolution 3430 “to direct the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] to extend the final deadline for private land mobile radio licensees to migrate to narrowband technology by two years.” This would push the deadline from January 1, 2013, to January 1, 2015. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where it is currently under review.

The idea of narrowbanding was initially conceived after communication difficulties that occurred on 9/11 were uncovered. Firefighters couldn’t speak with police officers and sometimes each other, depending on what jurisdiction they were from. Through narrowbanding, the FCC hopes to create a fully interoperable public safety force that is capable of responding to any disaster that may arise and eliminates communication lapses.

The original deadline was established by the FCC in 2004. While it may seem that states and localities have had plenty of time to comply with this deadline, it is important to note that it is not uncommon for development and improvement plans to be established up to 10 years in advance. This means that tentative budgets have already been established for major projects, and unless a radio system upgrade was included in those plans, many localities were left scrambling to come up with the funding for narrowbanding.

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