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Request for Waiver of Section 90.209(b) of the Commission's Rules

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Released: November 9, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1813

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA
)
WT Docket 99-87
)
Request for Waiver of Section 90.209(b) of the
)
Commission’s Rules
)

ORDER

Adopted: November 9, 2012

Released: November 9, 2012

By the Deputy Chief, Policy and Licensing Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security
Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
On March 2, 2012, Pima County, Arizona (Pima), on behalf of specific members
of the Pima County Wireless Integrated Network (PCWIN),1 submitted a request for waiver2 of
the Commission’s VHF/UHF narrowbanding deadline, which requires private land mobile radio
licensees in the 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz bands to operate using channel bandwidth of no
more than 12.5 kHz, or equivalent efficiency, by January 1, 2013.3 Pima seeks an extension of
the narrowbanding deadline until and including July 1, 2014.4 By this Order, we grant the
request.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
Pima is in the midst of deploying a Project 25 800 MHz public safety voice radio
network designed to combine the majority of the county’s radio resources into a single
interoperable network.5 The project is fully funded through a general obligation capital
improvement bond.6 Pima began construction in 2010, estimates completion by 2013, and


1 A list of the 29 PCWIN agencies is contained in the Waiver Request, Appendix B.
2 See Request for Waiver of Commission Rules, filed March 2, 2012, by Pima County, Arizona (Waiver
Request). See also 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, Third
Memorandum Opinion and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Order
, WT
Docket No. 99-87, 19 FCC Rcd 25045 (2004).
3 47 C.F.R. § 90.209(b)(5). Licensees in the T-Band (450-512 MHz) are exempt from the narrowbanding
requirement, effective April 26, 2012. 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 (WTB/PSHSB 2012).
4 Waiver Request at 2.
5 Id. at 2, 4.
6 Id. at 2.

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1813

anticipates that testing will be completed in early 2014.7 The project’s two primary objectives are
to replace older VHF and UHF systems with a county-wide public safety communications
system, and to construct a regional emergency communications and operations center.8
3.
Pima claims that, despite its best efforts, some PCWIN agencies will not be able
to transition to the new system until July 1, 2014.9 Pima surveyed all twenty-nine PCWIN
agencies regarding their need for narrowbanding waivers, and six member agencies indicated
that, absent a waiver, they would need to divert resources if they were to narrowband their
systems.10 Although it has over $100 million at its disposal to implement its new Project 25 800
MHz network, Pima claims it did not anticipate narrowbanding older systems as part of the
PCWIN budget.11 Pima submits that such interim upgrades would not be in the public interest as
they represent capital investments with a limited period of use.12
4.
Pima does not foresee a negative impact on co-channel and adjacent channel
operations as a result of the grant of this Waiver Request, because it has coordinated the PCWIN
transition with surrounding agencies.13 Many other PCWIN agencies submitted letters in support
of the Waiver Request.14
5.
Lastly, Pima claims that PCWIN agencies have worked diligently and in good
faith to transition to an 800 MHz system, and that the agencies’ resources would be best applied
to the successful implementation of the new 800 MHz system rather than upgrading older systems
that the agencies would subsequently abandon.15
6.
On January 27, 2012, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a
Public Notice seeking comment on the Waiver Request.16 No party filed comments in support or
opposition.

III.

DISCUSSION

7.
Pima seeks relief pursuant to Section 1.925(b)(3) of the Commission’s rules,
which provides that, in order 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 waiver would be in the public
interest;17 or (ii) in view of unique or unusual factual circumstances of the instant case,


7 Id. at 3. For a schedule of implementation tasks, see Waiver Request, Appendix A.
8 Id. at 3.
9 Id. at 3.
10 Id. at 3-4. A listing of agencies anticipating the need for waiver of the narrowbanding deadline is
contained in the Waiver Request, Appendix C.
11 Id. at 6.
12 Id. at 5.
13 Id. at 7.
14 Id. at Appendix D.
15 Id. at 9.
16 See Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Seeks Comment on Requests for Waiver of the
January 1, 2013 VHF-UHF Narrowbanding Deadline, Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 5101 (PSHSB 2012).
17 47 C.F.R. § 1.925(b)(3)(i).
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1813

application of the rule(s) would be inequitable, unduly burdensome, or contrary to the public
interest, or the applicant has no reasonable alternative.18
8.
The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the Public Safety and Homeland
Security Bureau, and the Office of Engineering and Technology stated in the jointly issued
Narrowbanding Waiver Guidance Notice, that “requests for waivers of the deadline (under §
1.925) will be subject to a high level of scrutiny.”19 The notice suggests factors for licensees to
include in a request for a waiver.20 In addressing those factors, the notice specifically
recommends that licensees explain how: (i) they have worked diligently and in good faith to
narrowband their systems expeditiously; (ii) their specific circumstances warrant a temporary
extension of the deadline; and (iii) the amount of time for which a waiver is requested is no more
than is reasonably necessary to complete the narrowbanding process.21
9.
Based on the record, we find that Pima’s request warrants waiver relief because
Pima has demonstrated that the underlying purpose of the narrowbanding rule—to promote
spectrum efficiency and increase available capacity— would not be served or would be frustrated
by application to the present case, and that a grant of the waiver would be in the public interest.22
The record shows that Pima has taken concrete steps since 2004 to transition to a new system that
would obviate the need for the affected agencies to meet the Commission’s narrowbanding
requirement.23 Implementation has been underway since 2010 and the project is fully funded.24
Based on these facts, including Pima’s assertion that it expects the affected agencies to
discontinue operations in the VHF and UHF bands in fewer than two years after the January 1,
2013 deadline, we find that strict enforcement of the narrowbanding deadline under these
circumstances would not serve the underlying purpose of the rule.
10.
Furthermore, we find that grant of the request is consistent with the public
interest. Requiring PCWIN agencies to divert money, time, and other resources from the new
Project 25 800 MHz system in order to upgrade nearly-obsolete VHF and UHF systems would be
counterproductive, especially because the upgraded systems would be used only for a short time.
We also find that granting Pima’s Waiver Request will provide the PCWIN agencies with a
reasonable amount of time to complete their transition to the new system while allowing the
existing UHF and VHF systems to continue to provide area first responders with interoperability
without adversely affecting other licensees.

IV.

CONCLUSION

11.
Based on the foregoing, we conclude that granting the requested waiver is in the
public interest. Accordingly, we grant Pima County, Arizona a waiver of the Commission’s


18 § 1.925(b)(3)(ii).
19 Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, and Office of
Engineering and Technology Provide Reminder of January 1, 2013 Deadline for Transition to Narrowband
Operations in the 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz Bands and Guidance for Submission of Requests for
Waiver and Other Matters, Public Notice, 26 FCC Rcd. 9647, 9648 (PSHSB, OET, WTB 2011) (Reminder
and Guidance Notice
).
20 Id. at 9649.
21 Id.
22 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.925(b)(3)(i).
23 See Waiver Request at 2, 4.
24 See Id. at 4-6.
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1813

January 1, 2013 VHF/UHF narrowbanding deadline, until and including July 1, 2014, for the call
signs set forth in the Appendix.

V.

ORDERING CLAUSES

12.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED pursuant to Section 4(i) of the Communications
Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. § 154(i), and Section 1.925(b)(3)(i) of the Commission’s
rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.925(b)(3)(i), that the Request for Waiver of Commission Rules filed by Pima
County, Arizona IS GRANTED.
13.
We take this action under delegated authority pursuant to Sections 0.191 and
0.392 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.191 and 0.392

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Zenji Nakazawa
Deputy Chief, Policy and Licensing Division
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1813

Appendix: List of Affected Call Signs

City of Tucson:
KA84711, KA84711, KA88381, KE3806, KJP433, KNAH823, KOA255, KOM548, KR9241,
KUS424, KUV784, KVI548, KXK344, WNGN289, WPEV625, WPJV434,WQD440, WRG369,
WRG585, WXB941, WYD944, WYR785, WYR786, WYV453, WYX314
City of South Tucson
WPAT711
Mount Lemmon FD
KB76652, WNMB651
County of Pima
KLU459, KXV642, WYZ441
5

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