Given the changes wrought by the coronavirus, the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) asked the FCC to waive until August 31, 2020, the requirement that site-based and mobile-only wireless systems complete facilities construction. It’s specifically asking for the waiver for those who have deadlines between March 15 and August 31.
The trade group cites supply chain delays that have affected wireless telecommunications equipment. “Activities that were routine and easily achievable, as well as products that were routinely available even one month ago, now present entirely unexpected challenges,” says EWA President Mark Crosby in the four-month waiver request.
Normally, failure to complete construction by the deadline, and to notify the FCC within the prescribed period, results in automatic license cancellation, notes Crosby.
Constructing a wireless system “requires humans to prepare the equipment for installation, to deliver it to the location where it is to be deployed, and to place it into operation. It may require someone to climb a tower to install antennas and lines. In some cases, it requires users of subscriber devices to bring their radios to a location where they can be reprogrammed or a programmer to be dispatched to the place where the radios are located,” states Crosby.
Multiple people are involved at every step of the process and, at this time, people are in short supply for various reasons, according to EWA. “Those who are available are attending to our most critical communications systems, particularly those used by public safety entities and medical providers,” he told the agency.
Unlike typical disaster situations, anything other than essential travel is actively discouraged to limit the spread of the virus. Programmers, technicians, tower climbers, and other qualified personnel cannot rush in to fill these spots when local professionals are not available as they did, for example, after 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, states Crosby. He asked the FCC to urgently approve the request.
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