Licensing activity for U.S. land-mobile-radio (LMR) systems generally has remained level with all-time-low pace established last year for both the public-safety and commercial sectors, according to information in the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS) database.

After seeing the number of LMR applications filed with the FCC decline significantly since the narrowbanding-driven peaks of 2012, many in the radio industry had hoped that LMR activity would rebound this year. But that trend has not materialized, despite some encouraging signs during the early part of the year.

“It continues to be on a downward slope. I had hoped, by this time, that maybe things would be looking up, but certainly not for us—and I don’t think it is for any of the coordinating committees,” Ralph Haller, executive director for the Forestry Conservation Communication Association (FCCA), said last month during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “It’s hard for me to know what the work of every other [spectrum-coordination] committee is, but my general impression is that most everyone is seeing a pretty good downward spiral in their work.

“Our receipts are certainly down from the first of the year. Some months, they come up and look pretty good, but the overall trend is down, and I think it’s that way across the board.”

Through July 2—the midpoint of the year—the FCC had received applications for 1,686 public-safety LMR licenses, with 1,568 of them granted as of today. Assuming that most of the pending applications are granted, this activity is very similar to the pace set last year, when the FCC granted 1,670 public-safety LMR applications during the first half of the year.

Business-industrial entities filed 5,540 LMR applications through July 2, with 4,633 of them granted as of today. If the FCC grants the vast majority of the pending applications in this category, the first-half total could slightly exceed the 5,408 business-industrial LMR applications that were granted during the first six months of 2017.

Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) President and CEO Mark Crosby acknowledged that the number of LMR applications that his organization has processed is similar to last year but emphasized that the licensing figures do not reflect the entire situation.

“At least for us, we have some larger projects,” Crosby said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “[A small LMR system] counts as an app, but the guy who’s putting in 50 sites with three channels on each is an app, too, but they’re nowhere near the same. We have a lot of complicated, bigger projects that are good.”