Applications Regarding “Wideband-Only” Licenses for Facilities Operating Without Waiver Will Be Dismissed

On January 13, 2016 the FCC released DA 16-36 providing further guidance on narrowbanding below 470 MHz. Since the Commission’s narrowbanding requirement went into effect on January 1, 2013, all VHF/UHF Industrial/Business and Public Safety Radio Pool licensees in the 150-174 MHz and 421-470 MHz bands are required to operate on channels with a maximum bandwidth of 12.5 kHz or equivalent efficiency, unless they are operating under the terms of a waiver. Accordingly, wideband only operation absent a waiver is no longer permitted. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (the Bureaus) have taken various steps to assure that licensees are aware of and comply with the narrowbanding requirement, and update their license information to reflect narrowband operation.

Will the Bureaus take any other action to encourage licensees to update their license information to reflect narrowband operation and otherwise comply with the narrowbanding requirement? The Bureaus intend in the near future to notify by email to all PLMR licensees in the 150-174 MHz and 421-470 MHz bands with wideband emission designators who have provided an email address in the Universal Licensing System, to urge them to update their license information to reflect compliance with the narrowbanding requirement.

What are the potential enforcement consequences of unauthorized wideband operation or falsely claiming narrowband status while continuing wideband operation? Licensees operating in wideband mode after January 1, 2013 that have not received a waiver from the Commission extending the deadline are in violation of the Commission’s rules. Licensees who operate in violation of the Commission’s rules or the terms of the licensee’s license, or who cause harmful interference to another licensee, may be subject to appropriate enforcement action. Such enforcement action may include admonishments, license revocation, and/or monetary forfeitures of up to $16,000 for each such violation or each day of a continuing violation, and up to $112,500 for any single act or failure to act.