FCC Denies AMPS Extension; Upholds ‘Sunset’ Date


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied an alarm industry petition to extend the advanced mobile phone service (AMPS) “Sunset” date.

In 2002, the FCC established Feb. 18, 2008, as the date cellular carriers may begin discontinuing support of analog wireless networks. At that time, the FCC said a five-year sunset was sufficient to facilitate the migration of the deaf and hard of hearing, and users of emergency-only analog cellular handsets, to digital handsets.

The alarm industry was notified informally by the FCC recently that it would not grant an initial request for a two-year extension.

Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) and ADT Security Services later sought more narrow relief, proposing a nine-month extension for “second and third tier” metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), which cover 39.4 percent of the U.S. population.

The denial by the FCC effectively kills the industry’s attempts to extend the date beyond Feb. 18, 2008.

“To have both of the extensions denied is a big disappointment for the industry,” AICC Chairman Louis Fiore told Security Sales & Integration.

In its extension filing, the alarm industry maintained that about 950,000 analog alarm radios are yet to be replaced, and there would only be time enough to replace 350,000 to 450,000 before Feb. 18, 2008.

However, in it’s June 15 ruling the FCC stated: “Because analog handsets are not available with location capability, continuation of the analog service requirement could adversely impact deployment of E911 location capable digital handsets to all wireless consumers.”

The ruling also stated the alarm industry has sufficient time and equipment to replace all analog alarm radios that are used as a primary communications path before the analog sunset date and that the public interest would not be served by extending the sunset date.

Despite being denied an extension, Fiore said he is pleased the FCC did mandate that carriers would be obligated to continue AMPS service until the sunset date expires.

“At least we know we are not having to scramble in the meantime,” he said.

The next immediate step for the industry and its alarm dealers, Fiore said, is to immediately begin communicating to customers.

“Dealers, if they haven’t already, should advise their customers if they are using AMPS radios as either primary or back up that they need to have these changed out as soon as possible,” he said.

To view the full FCC ruling, click here.

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