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SPOKANE Narrowbanding Waiver

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Released: December 10, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1980

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
SPOKANE REGIONAL EMERGENCY
)
WT Docket 99-87
COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS
)
)
Request for Waiver of Section 90.209(b) of the
)
Commission’s Rules
)

ORDER

Adopted: December 10, 2012

Released: December 10, 2012

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

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
On December 29, 2011, the Spokane Regional Emergency Communications Systems
(SRECS) submitted a request for waiver1 of the Federal Communications Commission’s (the
Commission) VHF/UHF narrowbanding deadline, which requires private land mobile radio licenses 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, 2013.2 On September 21, 2012, SRECS amended its waiver request
to extend the duration of proposed waiver from January 1, 2014, to June 30, 2014.3 By this Order, we
grant the request for an extension up to, and including, June 30, 2014.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
SRECS is transitioning its communications system from a collection of individual,
mostly VHF systems to a new county-wide 800 MHz radio communications system that will provide
seamless interoperability communications to all City and County Public Safety agencies within Spokane
County, as well as to some agencies in adjoining counties.4 This new system will consist of fifteen sites,
some of which are existing sites requiring complete reconstruction, while others are completely new


1 See Request for Waiver of Commission Rules, filed December 29, 2011, by Spokane Regional Emergency
Communications Systems (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).
2 47 C.F.R. § 90.209(b)(5). A suspension on applications in the T-Band (450-512 MHz) has been in effect since
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).
3 See Letter, dated September 21, 2012 from Bob Lincoln, Director, Spokane Regional Communications Systems to
Roberto Mussenden, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, Federal Communications Commission (Lincoln
Letter).
4 Waiver Request at 1.

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1980

sites.5 The project is financed by a 0.1 percent sales tax increase that Spokane County passed in 20086
and SRECS has secured additional funding through Federal Public Safety Interoperable Communications
(PSIC) and Interoperable Communications Technology Program (ICTP) grant funding.7
3.
SRECS began implementing its new system in 2009.8 It successfully completed factory
staging in May 2011, and is installing radio equipment at the new sites.9 While SRECS’ original system
implementation schedule would have met the 2013 narrowband deadline, SRECS points out that several
unforeseen issues have adversely affected the original schedule.10
4.
SRECS states that it has faced significant delays in constructing new radio sites because
most of the sites are located at over 3,000 feet in elevation, which renders them inaccessible during the
winter months.11 In addition, SRECS states that the comprehensive permitting review process for these
sites has taken longer than originally anticipated.12 SRECS states that these delays have caused
construction of some sites to slip until at least November 2012.12 Once these sites are completed, SRECS
states that it must install and align its microwave backhaul system followed by coverage testing and
system optimization.13 SRECS intends to have users fully transitioned off the VHF/UHF systems by
December 2013, after which time it will then begin to decommission those systems.14
5.
SRECS is concerned that it will be required to cease wide-band operations before they
have safely transitioned to the new system.15 SRECS claims that a significant amount of its existing
system’s equipment is not narrowband capable and that it does not have the financial or staff resources to
upgrade or modify the system.16 SRECS states that its primary focus has been on the transition to the new
system.17 Accordingly, SRECS requests an eighteen-month extension of the narrowbanding deadline
until and including June 30, 2014.18
6.
SRECS claims that its system has no interdependencies with neighboring systems and
that it plans to minimize any negative impacts on co-channel and adjacent channel operations by
transitioning users off the existing VHF/UHF channels and turning them off as soon as is reasonable and


5 Id. at 2.
6 Id. at 3.
7 Id.
8 Id.
9 Id.
10 Id. at 1.
11 Id.
12 Id.
12 Waiver Request at 1; Lincoln Letter at 1.
13 Id.
14 Lincoln Letter at 2.
15 Waiver Request at 2.
16 Id.
17 Id.
18 Lincoln Letter at 2.
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1980

prudent.19 SRECS also pledges to prioritize transitioning operations on channels that have specific co-
channel users with concerns, and that it will return unused VHF/UHF frequencies to the Commission.20
7.
On January 27, 2012, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau issued a Public
Notice seeking comment on the Waiver Request.21 No party filed comments in support or in opposition
to the Waiver Request.

III.

DISCUSSION

8.
SRECS seeks relief pursuant to Section 1.925(b) 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;22 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.23
9.
The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the Public Safety and Homeland Security
Bureau, and the Office of Engineering and Technology have stated in the jointly issued Narrowbanding
Waiver Guidance Notice
, that “requests for waivers of the deadline (under Section 1.925) will be subject
to a high level of scrutiny.”24 This notice suggests factors to include in a request for a waiver.25 In
addressing those factors, this Public 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.26
10.
In light of the record, we find that SRECS warrants waiver relief because it has
demonstrated that the underlying purpose of the narrowbanding rule—promoting efficient spectrum use—
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.27 The record shows that SRECS has taken concrete steps since
2008 to secure transition to a new system that would obviate the need for the affected agencies to meet
the Commission’s narrowbanding requirement. Implementation has been underway since 2008 and the
project is fully funded. Based on these facts, including SRECS’s assertion that it expects the affected
agencies to have exited the band within one year 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.


19 Id. at 3.
20 Id. at 3-4.
21 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 430 (PSHSB 2012).
22 47 C.F.R. § 1.925(b)(3)(i).
23 § 1.925(b)(3)(ii).
24 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,
Federal Communications Commission Public Notice, 26 FCC Rcd 9647, 9648 (2011) (Reminder and Guidance
Notice
).
25 Id. at 9649.
26 Id.
27 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.925(b)(3)(i).
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1980

11.
Furthermore, we find that grant of the request is consistent with the public interest.
Requiring SRECS agencies to divert money, time, and other resources from its planned transition to a
new system in order to upgrade nearly-obsolete systems would be counterproductive, especially in light
of the fact that the agencies would only use the upgraded systems for a short period of time. We also find
that granting SRECS’s Waiver Request will provide the SRECS agencies with a reasonable amount of
time to complete their transition to the new system, while allowing the existing UHF and VHF system to
continue to provide area first responders with another layer of interoperability during this transition
without unduly affecting other licensees. In reaching this decision, we also find persuasive SRECS’s
assertion that because of the unexpected delays it encountered in obtaining permits for construction of
new facilities, as well as the logistical constraints imposed by winter weather conditions, it faced unique
and unusual circumstances that impeded its ability to complete the narrowbanding process by the January
1, 2013 deadline.28

IV.

CONCLUSION

12.
Based on the foregoing, we conclude that granting the instant waiver request is in the
public interest. Accordingly, we grant Spokane Regional Emergency Communications Systems a waiver
of the Commission’s January 1, 2013 VHF/UHF narrowbanding deadline, until and including June 30,
2014, for the call signs set forth in Appendix A.

V.

ORDERING CLAUSES

13.
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) of the Commission’s rules,
47 C.F.R. § 1.925(b)(3), that the Request for Waiver of the Commission rules filed by Spokane
Regional Emergency Communications Systems as amended, IS GRANTED.
14.
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
Scot Stone
Deputy Chief,
Mobility Division,
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau


28 See § 1.925(b)(3)(ii).
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1980

Appendix A: List of Affected Call Signs

KA77659
Spokane County Fire Protection Dist 10
PW
KA77660
Spokane County Fire Protection Dist 10
PW
KB41440
Spokane, County Of
PW
KB61637
Spokane, County Of
PW
KE4181
Spokane, County Of
PW
KL9475
Spokane, County Of
PW
KLX208
Spokane, County Of
PW
KLY956
Spokane, County Of
PW
KNCC467
Spokane, County Of
PW
KNIT863
Spokane, County Of
PW
KNJN828
Spokane, County Of
PW
KOK501
Spokane County Fire District 1
PW
KR4255
Spokane, County Of
PW
KUB771
Spokane, County Of
PW
KY2964
Spokane, County Of
PW
WBV857
Spokane County Fire District 3
PW
WNBA482
Spokane, County Of
PW
WNBX916
Spokane, County Of
PW
WNFF982
Spokane Regional Emergency Communcation System
PW
WNFU451
Airway Heights, City Of
PW
WNGR551
Spokane County Fire District 9
PW
WNGY555
Spokane Regional Emergency Communication
PW
WNHW951 Spokane County
PW
WNIW728
Spokane, City And County Of
PW
WNJG993
Spokane, County Of
PW
WNNF302
Spokane, County Of
PW
WNPA557
Spokane, County Of
PW
WNPH939
Spokane, County Of
PW
WNRF209
Spokane, County Of
PW
WNSG940
Spokane, County Of
PW
WNVB931
Spokane Regional Emergency Communication
PW
WNVN278
Spokane, County Of
PW
WNWC554 Spokane Regional Emergency Communication
PW
WNWC558 Spokane Regional Emergency Communication
PW
WNXS951
Spokane Regional Emergency Communication
PW
WPGD767
Spokane County Fire District 8
PW
WPGQ928
Spokane County Fire District No 9
PW
WPKL609
Spokane, County Of
PW
WQEX788
Spokane, County Of
PW
WQF250
Spokane, County Of
PW
5

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1980

WQLF595
Spokane, City And County Of
PW
WQNR397
Spokane Regional Emerg. Communications System
PW
WXK646
Spokane, County Of
PW
WZJ436
County Of, Spokane
PW
WZX496
Spokane, County Of
PW
WZX497
County Of, Spokane
PW
WZY319
Spokane, County Of
PW
KB28028
Spokane, City Of
PW
KB51032
Spokane, City Of
PW
KLE739
Spokane, City Of
PW
KOA370
Spokane, City Of
PW
KOB246
Spokane, City Of
PW
WNAA594
Spokane, City Of
PW
WNKE585
Spokane, City Of
PW
WNSY451
Spokane, City Of
PW
WNVL396
Spokane, City Of
PW
WQCK312
Spokane, City Of
PW
WPAN379
Spokane County F P D 1
PW
WNKI993
Spokane County Fire District 4
PW
WPHU864
Spokane County Parks & Rec
IG
WPQB870
Spokane County Fire District 3
PW
WQEX453
Spokane County Fire District #5
PW
KNIE527
Spokane, County Of
PW
6

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