Whether the current Dec. 31, 2016 deadline for public-safety 700 MHz narrowband systems to migrate from 12.5 kHz channels to 6.25 kHz-equivalent channels should remain in place is one of the key questions that the FCC is asking in a proceeding that the federal agency recently launched.

On April 1, the FCC's public safety and homeland security bureau issued a report and order, as well as a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding rules for the 700 MHz narrowband spectrum allocated to public safety. Several public-safety entities previously asked the FCC for waiver extensions — many until 2024 — to allow them to use their existing 700 MHz narrowband systems for 10-15 years and/or to better determine what options they may have in the long-term future, especially if mission-critical voice over broadband LTE can be developed.

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