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Los Angeles County Request for Waiver of Construction Deadline

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Released: October 3, 2012
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554

DA 12-1583

October 3, 2012
Ron Wong
Manager, Engineering/Technical
LA-RICS Project
2525 Corporate Place, Suite 200
Monterey Park, CA, 91754
Re:
County of Los Angeles, Request for Waiver and Further Extended Implementation
Authorization (Call Signs WPLU218, et al.), filed June 27, 2012
Dear Mr. Wong:
This letter addresses the above-referenced request for a further waiver of Section 90.629 of the
Commission’s rules, and extension of the current extended implementation filed on behalf of the County
of Los Angeles (County).1 The County requests the waiver to extend from June 30, 2012, to June 30,
2013, the construction deadline associated with twenty narrowband UHF licenses that are to be integrated
into the Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System (LA-RICS).2 In the alternative, the
County requests an extension until October 31, 2012 to complete an analysis of its options for
continuation of LA-RICS in light of Section 6103 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of
2012.3 For the reasons discussed below, we grant the County’s waiver request in part and extend the
County’s construction deadline until October 31, 2012, subject to the conditions detailed herein.
In 1998, the County received twenty-one narrowband UHF licenses to construct the LA-RICS
county-wide public safety communications system.4 At the time of the initial grant, the County requested
extended implementation or “slow growth” authority under Section 90.629.5 This section permits
licensees up to five years to complete construction of a licensed system, versus the general one-year
allowance, if licensees can show that the technical or coordination complexities of their system


1 See File Nos. 0005061531 et al., attached “Extended Implementation Authorization for WPLU218 et al.” (filed
June 30, 2012) (June 2012 Extension Request). For a complete list of file numbers associated with the June 2012
Extension Request and the related call signs, see infra Table 1.
2 See June 2012 Extension Request at 2. Notwithstanding the June 30, 2013 date set forth in the June 2012
Extension Request, all the applications have a requested expiration date of January 12, 2015. See File Nos.
0005061531 et al. Additionally, we note that the County requested an extension “at least” until October 31, 2012 to
assess its options and make a decision as to whether it will pursue construction of the licenses at issue. For purposes
of this waiver request, we address the County’s request for additional time until October 31, 2012.
3 See June 2012 Extension Request at 1.
4 See infra Table 1. See Letter from Michael J. Wilhelm, Deputy Chief, Policy and Licensing Division, Public
Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, to Mr. Ron Wong, Manager, Engineering/Technical, LA-RICS Project
(dated June 24, 2011) at Table 1. The County’s earlier extension requests included call sign WPME990, but there is
no recent extension request associated with this license.
5 See File No. 0000549192, attached “Status Report on the Los Angeles County 12.5 kHz UHF Countywide Radio
System” (filed Aug. 8, 2001) (2001 Extension Request).

Mr. Ron Wong
necessitate additional time.6 Under this initial grant, the licenses were set to expire in 2003 if the County
had not adequately completed construction and implementation.7 Through subsequent waivers of the
rule, however, the County received four extensions, citing an expanding scope of the project and funding
and planning issues.8 Under the most recent waiver, the licenses were set to expire on June 30, 2012.9
The Bureau noted that any future request by the County for additional extensions would be “subject to a
high level of scrutiny and must include a showing that the County has made substantial progress towards
completion of the system.”10
To obtain a waiver of the Commission’s rules, a petitioner must demonstrate either that: (i) the
underlying purpose of the rule(s) would not be served or would be frustrated by application to the present
case, and that a grant of the requested waiver would be in the public interest;11 or (ii) in view of unique or
unusual factual circumstances of the instant case, application of the rule(s) would be inequitable, unduly
burdensome or contrary to the public interest, or the applicant has no reasonable alternative.12 An
applicant seeking a waiver faces a high hurdle and must plead with particularity the facts and
circumstances that warrant a waiver.13 As discussed below, we find that the underlying purpose of the
rule would not be frustrated by granting the County limited waiver relief and that the public interest
would be served.
As an initial matter, the circumstances under which we granted the previous waivers have
changed. On February 22, 2012 the President of the United States signed into law the Middle Class Tax
Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Spectrum Act).14 Section 6103 of the Spectrum Act requires that
the Commission, not later than February 2021: (1) reallocate public safety spectrum in the 470 – 512


6 See 47 C.F.R. § 90.629.
7 See 2001 Extension Request at 1.
8 See 2001 Extension Request; see also File Nos. 0002462790 et al., attached “Status Report on the Los Angeles
County Wide UHF Refarming Project” (filed Jan. 27, 2006) (2006 Extension Request); File Nos. 0004740426 et al.,
attached “Waiver Request and Status Report, Los Angeles County Wide UHF Refarming Project, Revised May 24th,
2011” (filed May 24, 2011) (May 2011 Extension Request); File Nos. 0004863991 et al., attached “Request for
Waiver and Further Implementation Authorization” (filed Aug. 30, 2011) (August 2011 Extension Request).
9 See Letter from James A. Barnett, Jr., Rear Admiral (ret.), Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, to
Mr. Ron Wong, Manager, Engineering/Technical, LA-RICS Project (dated Oct. 27, 2011), 26 FCC Rcd 14286
(PSHSB 2011) (October 2011 Waiver). As a condition of that waiver, the Bureau required the County to file a
report with the Bureau by January 31, 2012 detailing status of the project and the progress towards finalizing the
prime contract for construction. Id. at 14288. The County filed the required report and updated timeline on January
31, 2012, indicating that it had received two proposals and planned to complete its evaluation of the proposals by
March 2012. See County of Los Angeles LA-RICS FCC Granted Waiver Status Report (2012 Status Report).
10 See October 2011 Waiver, 26 FCC Rcd at 14288.
11 47 C.F.R. § 1.925(b)(3)(i).
12 47 C.F.R. § 1.925(b)(3)(ii).
13 WAIT Radio v. FCC, 413 F.2d 1153, 1157 (D.C. Cir. 1969) (WAIT Radio), aff’d, 459 F.2d 1203 (1973), cert.
denied,
409 U.S. 1027 (1972) (citing Rio Grande Family Radio Fellowship, Inc. v. FCC, 406 F.2d 664 (D.C. Cir.
1968)); Birach Broad. Corp., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 18 FCC Rcd 1414, 1415 (2003).
14 See Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Spectrum Act). Pub. L. No. 112-96, 126 Stat. 156.
2

Mr. Ron Wong
MHz (T-Band);15 and (2) begin a system of competitive bidding to grant new initial licenses for such
spectrum,16 and relocate public safety users not later than two years after said competitive bidding is
completed.17 The Commission’s staff has taken preliminary steps to perform the actions required by the
Spectrum Act.18 The County requests at least until October 31, 2012 to complete an analysis of the
situation and to formulate available options for continuation of LA-RICS in the T-Band.19
The County argues that no other entity could utilize the narrowband channels in question as such
use would interfere with the County’s existing operations on overlapping wideband (20 kHz bandwidth)
channels.20 The County cites the Commission’s waiver of narrowbanding requirements for T-Band
licensees in light of the Spectrum Act. We agree with the County’s argument, because under the T-Band
narrowbanding waiver, the County’s operational wideband licenses that are authorized on main
frequencies interleaved with the narrowband frequencies may remain in wideband mode beyond January
1, 2013.21 The bandwidth overlap of the County’s wideband channels with the interleaved narrowband
channels would prevent new applicants in the vicinity from using the narrowband channels if they were
otherwise available. The County also notes that the Commission’s suspension of new T-Band
applications in light of the Spectrum Act “creates additional impediments to any alternate use of the
channels.”22 We agree that the T-Band application suspension would prevent new entities from applying
for the narrowband channels at issue here if they were otherwise available. In this instance, where the
County’s interleaved wideband channels and the Commission’s recent actions in light of the Spectrum
Act render the narrowband channels unusable by any other party, we find that a limited grant of a waiver
would not frustrate the underlying purpose of Section 90.629.23


15 Id. § 6103(a)(1) citing 47 C.F.R. § 90.303.
16 Id. § 6103(a)(2) (citing 47 U.S.C. § 309(j)).
17 Id. § 6103(c).
18 First, the Commission’s staff issued an order waiving the deadline for licensees in the T-Band to migrate to 12.5
kHz bandwidth (otherwise known as “narrowbanding”). See Implementation of Sections 309(j) and 337 of the
Communications Act of 1934 as Amended; Promotion of Spectrum Efficient Technologies on Certain Part 90
Frequencies, Order, 27 FCC Rcd 4213 (WTB, PSHSB and OET 2012) (Narrowbanding Waiver Order). Second,
the Commission staff has taken steps to suspend future licensing in the T-Band. See Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Suspend the Acceptance and Processing of Certain Part 22
and 90 Applications for 470-512 MHz (T-Band) Spectrum, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 4218 (PSHSB and WTB
2012) (Application Suspension PN).
19 June 2012 Extension Request at 1.
20 Id. at 2.
21 Pending further Commission action, the Commission staff concluded that it would be “inequitable and contrary to
the public interest to require PLMR licensees to meet the January 1, 2013 narrowbanding deadline with respect to
frequencies in the 470-512 MHz band.” Narrowbanding Waiver Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 4215 ¶ 6.
22 The purpose of the suspension is to stabilize the spectral environment while the Commission considers issues
surrounding future use of the T-Band and implementation of the Spectrum Act. The suspension, however, “does not
apply to … requests for extensions of time to construct or consummate previously granted applications.”
Application Suspension PN, 27 FCC Rcd at 4219.
23 The purpose of Section 90.629 of the Commission’s rules is “to ensure beneficial uses of licensed spectrum, and
prevent licensees from ‘warehousing’ spectrum and making it unavailable to other potential licensees.” October
2011 Waiver
, 26 FCC Rcd at 14287.
3

Mr. Ron Wong
The County argues that grant of the request would be in the public interest as it would allow the
County an opportunity to evaluate the most cost-effective and spectrum-efficient means of meeting the
interoperable communications requirements of the County’s first responders.24 Under the unique
circumstances of this case, we conclude that granting the County a limited extension would be consistent
with the County’s goals and the Commission’s waiver criteria, and would not adversely affect other
licensees. Accordingly, we grant an extension until October 31, 2012, the minimum extension requested
by the County,25 to permit the County to evaluate its options and determine whether it intends to pursue a
further extension in light of the Spectrum Act. If the County elects to pursue an extension, we require the
County to file a report with the Bureau by October 31, 2012, detailing: (1) the status of the County’s
efforts to select a vendor and finalize all contracts to begin construction,26 (2) how quickly the County
could begin construction of the LA-RICS system and (3) how long construction would take. We also
note that further requests for extension by the County will be subject to a high level of scrutiny and must
include a detailed showing that the County has made substantial progress towards completion of the
system.

Finally, as an ancillary matter, we note that the County attached the June 2012 Extension Request
to three other applications for extension of time with respect to three licenses that were not part of the
County’s earlier extension requests.27 The three licenses are set to expire in October 2013, which is
beyond the June 30, 2013, date that the County suggested in the June 2012 Extension Request. Because
these licenses do not face termination until October 2013, we do not act on these three applications at this
time.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED pursuant to Sections 4(i) and 303(r) of the Communications Act
of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 154(i), 303(r), and Sections 1.925, 1.946(e), and 90.629 of the
Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.925, 1.946(e), 90.629, that the request for waiver filed by the County
of Los Angeles on May 24, 2011, in connection with applications File Nos. 0005061531, 0005061532,
0005061533, 0005061534, 0005061535, 0005061536, 0005061537, 0005061538, 0005061539,
0005061540, 0005061541, 0005061542, 0005061543, 0005061544, 0005061545, 0005061546,
0005061547, 0005061551, 0005061552, and 0005061553 IS GRANTED in part, and the applications
SHALL BE PROCESSED consistent with the Commission’s Rules and this letter.


24 Id. at 1.
25 June 2012 Extension Request at 2.
26 We note that the County in its January 2012 update indicated that it was evaluating the two proposals it received
and hoped to complete this task by March 2012. See 2012 Status Report.
27 See File Nos. 0005061548, 0005061549, 0005061550 (filed June 30, 2012). The associated call signs are
WPMP238, WPMP266, and WPMP438, respectively. If the County attached the June 2012 Extension Request to
these applications in error, or filed the applications prematurely, the County is free to remove the attachment or
withdraw the applications to eliminate any confusion.
4

Mr. Ron Wong
This action is taken under delegated authority pursuant to Sections 0.191 and 0.392 of the
Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.191, 0.392.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
David S. Turetsky
Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
CC:
Robert Gurss, Esq.
Fletcher, Heald and Hildreth, PLC
1300 North 17th St., 11th Floor
Arlington, VA 22209
5

Mr. Ron Wong
Table 1
Call Sign
2001 Request
2006 Request
May 2011
August 2011
June 2012
File Nos.
File Nos.
Request
Request
Request File
File Nos.
File Nos.
Nos.
WPLU218
0000549192
0002462790
0004740426
0004863991
0005061531
WPLU220
0000549192
0002462791
0004740427
0004863992
0005061532
WPLU221
0000549192
0002462792
0004740428
0004863993
0005061533
WPLU224
0000549192
0002462793
0004740429
0004863994
0005061534
WPLU230
0000549192
0002462794
0002498215
0004863995
0005061535
WPLU231
0000549192
0002498215
0004740431
0004863996
0005061536
WPLU232
0000549192
0002462796
0004740432
0004863997
0005061537
WPLU234
0000549192
0002462798
0004740433
0004863998
0005061538
WPME990
0000549192
0002462799
0004740434
N/A
N/A
WPMK204
0000549192
0002462800
0004740435
0004863999
0005061539
WPMK277
0000549192
0002462801
0002462801
0004864000
0005061540
WPMK278
0000549192
0002462802
0003343590
0004864001
0005061541
WPMK279
0000549192
0002462803
0003343591
0004864002
0005061542
WPMK280
0000549192
0002462804
0003343592
0004864003
0005061543
WPMK281
0000549192
0002462805
0003343593
0004864004
0005061544
WPMK282
0000549192
0002462806
0003343594
0004864005
0005061545
WPMM805
0000549192
0002462808
0003343595
0004864006
0005061546
WPMM807
0000549192
0002462809
0003343596
0004864007
0005061547
WPMW796
0000549192
0002462810
0004740444
0004864008
0005061551
WPNP716
0000549192
0002462812
0004740445
0004864009
0005061552
WPNP718
0000549192
0002462813
0004740446
0004864010
0005061553
6

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