WASHINGTON-The Personal Communications Industry Association urged the Federal Communications Commission last week to lift the freeze on paging applications, saying small carriers will suffer unproportionately as federal regulators attempt to streamline rules for large operators.
PCIA’s President Jay Kitchen said the freeze that went into effect earlier this month is unnecessary and appears to be in conflict with the common carrier obligation to provide service on demand.
The FCC will not accept applications until after it formulates a new, geographic licensing approach to succeed the current practice of licensing every transmitter in a paging company’s service area. Auction guidelines also are being drawn up.
At least one small paging firm, Modern Communications Corp., fears the paging freeze could having a devastating impact on its business and others.
“It is quite clear that the freeze will have far-reaching and dramatic effects on employment, our ability to continue providing quality service to the public, and will have quite a negative impact on the U.S. economy at a time when America can least afford it,” said Steven Seltzer, president of MCC, in a Feb. 22 letter to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt.
MCC and affiliates Personal Communications Inc. and RCC of Pennsylvania Inc. serve 15,000 paging subscribers in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Seltzer said the freeze disrupts plans in all those states to fill in coverage gaps and extend service areas for existing customers. He explained that $100,000 worth of orders for some of the 29 base stations the firm was to buy from Motorola Inc. must be canceled and contracts for antennas and other equipment valued at $125,000 cannot go forward. “There appears to be no justification for implementing or continuing the freeze, particularly as it applies to licensees in the UHF and VHF frequency bands,” said Seltzer.
PCIA said firms like Seltzer’s are victims of a “drive-by-shooting,” and vowed to lobby the FCC to resume application processing.