What’s New at the FCC? NPSTC November Regulatory Update


Articles provided by Bette Rinehart, NPSTC Editorial Task Group Chair

700 MHz News

  • Technical Rules Adopted for Spectrum Licensed to FirstNet

800 MHz News

  • Application Freeze in Canadian Border Extended
  • Comment Dates Established for NPRM Proposing Emission Mask Requirements for Digital Technologies in the NPSPAC Band

Regulatory News

  • Wheeler & O’Rielly Confirmed by Senate
  • National Public Safety Telecommunications Council Provides FCC with 4.9 GHz National Plan Recommendations – Comment Sought
  • Comment Sought on Flathead County, MT Waiver Request to Use I/B Pool VHF Frequencies

 700 MHz News

Technical Rules Adopted for Spectrum Licensed to FirstNet:  At its October meeting, the Commission adopted a 2nd Report & Order in Public Safety Dockets 06-229 and 12-94, and WT Docket 06-150, to establish technical service rules for the 700 MHz spectrum licensed to FirstNet (758-769/788-799 MHz).  In the Second R&O the FCC:

  • Consolidated the rules under Part 90, eliminating the redundant sections of Part 27
  • Directed OET to begin certifying equipment to operate in the band as soon as the new rules consolidated under 90.549 are effective
  • Did not address relocation of incumbent narrowband  700 MHz licensees
  • Retained the original limits on 1) power  (including retaining the 3 watt ERP limit for portable units), 2) power flux density, 3) out-of-band-emission (including harmonics);
  • Declined to adopt 1) a field strength limit for radio access networks (RANs) operated in FirstNet’s spectrum; 2) formal requirements that FirstNet coordinate its operations with either 700 MHz commercial operators or PS narrowband incumbents.
  • Retained the restrictions on the internal guard band (768-769/798-799 MHz)

Due to the urgent need to resume certifying equipment to operate in the band, the new rules are effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. As of October 31, the item had not been published. The text of the News Release is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-323722A1.doc

The text of the decision is available at:http://www.fcc.gov/document/700-mhz-public-safety-broadband-service-rules-report-and-order

 800 MHz News

Application Freeze Extended in Canadian Border:  The FCC has extended the application frUS Canada border imageeeze until April 18, 2014 in the following Canadian border National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee (NPSPAC) Regions:

  • Region 21 (Michigan)
  • Region 33 (Ohio)
  • Region 43 (Washington State)
  • Region 55 (Western New York state)

The text of the Public Notice is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2027A1.doc

Comment Dates Established for Emission Mask Requirements for Digital Technologies in the NPSPAC Band:  The FCC has released a Public Notice announcing the filing deadlines for commenting on proposed rules to require digital technologies (including, but not limited to TETRA) to comply with Emission Mask H when operating in the 800 MHz NPSPAC band. Comments were due on November 14; Reply Comments are due November 29, 2013.

The text of the Public Notice is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2035A1.docx

Regulatory News

Wheeler and O’Rielly Confirmed by Senate:  Tom Wheeler, a former cable and mobile phone industry representative, has been unanimously confirmed by the Senate to be the next FCC Chairman.  He replaces Julius GenachoTom Wheeler FCC Chair 2013wski who departed earlier this year.  [Tom Wheeler R.]

Michael O’Rielly, a former Congressional staffer, was unanimously confirmed as the Republican nominee to fill the Commission seat left vacant by the departure of Robert McDowell. With these two confirmations, the FCC is back up to its full strength of five members.  Wheeler and O’Rielly will be sworn in on November 4.

In a press release, Acting FCC Chairwoman, Mignon Clyburn, praised Wheeler’s experience, talent and knowledge and predicted that he would be an outstanding FCC Chairman.  She declared that O’Rielly would be an invaluable asset to the Commission given his extensive expertise in public policy and knowledge of the communications landscape.

The statement by Clyburn is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-323771A1.docx

Comment Sought on 4.9 GHz National Plan Submitted by NPSTC:  The FCC is seeking comment on 4.9 GHz National Plan Recommendations prepared and filed by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) earlier this month.  The recommendations were compiled in response to a rulemaking initiated by the FCC in June of 2012 outlining proposals to encourage greater use of the 4.9 GHz band.

NPSTC’s 4.9 GHz National Plan recommendations include:

  • Designating specific channels for specific uses (air-to-ground and robotic, primary 1 MHz point-to-point, shared use with critical infrastructure)
  • Proposals to introduce technical limitations on  fixed point-to-point links such as maximum beamwidth and minimum gain
  • Proposed technical and operational rules for  air-to-ground and robotic uses
  • Application procedures for critical infrastructure eligibles
  • Frequency coordination proposals
  • Recommendations for Regional Planning Committee review procedures and 4.9 GHz Regional Plans

The text of the NPSTC document is available at:http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7520950517    

Comments are due 11/22/2013; Reply Comments are due December 13. The text of the Public Notice is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2096A1.docx

Comment Sought on Flathead County, MT Waiver To Use I/B Pool VHF Frequencies:  The FCC is seeking comment on a waiver request filed by Flathead County, MT, asking that it be allowed to license eight VHF frequencies from the Industrial/Business pool.

Flathead County is in northwestern Montana, close to the Canadian border.  It had previously sought authorization on Public Safety pool frequencies, but Canada had opposed that assignment.  Canada has concurred with use of the I/B pool frequencies.  In its request, Flathead argues that it has no alternative other than to file for I/B pool frequencies.  It includes a letter from APCO stating that due to the high terrain and proximity to Canada, there are no VHF PS pool frequencies available.  APCO explains that because the County’s system is part of the statewide VHF system, neither 700 MHz, 800 MHz nor UHF frequencies are viable options.  A letter of concurrence from an I/B pool frequency coordinator is included with the waiver request.

The FCC is seeking comment on the waiver request, particularly from those who would be impacted by Flathead’s use of the requested frequencies.  Comments are due November 29; Reply Comments are due December 14. The text of the Public Notice is available at:


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