NPSTC FCC Regulatory Update, December 2013


       Articles Provided by Bette Rinehart

  • Comment Sought on Licensing Models for 3.5 GHz
  • SAS Workshop To Be Held
  • Call for Papers on SAS
  • State of Maine Waiver Request to Conduct Two-Way Voice Operations on a Paging-Only Frequency Granted
  • International Association of Auto Theft Investigators  Waiver Request to Allow Continued Wideband Operations of Vehicular Locator  Units
  • Rebanding Timeline Extensions Granted
  • Sprint Waiver to Deploy LTE in Portions of Florida Granted
  • Region 50 700 MHz Regional Plan Approved

Comment Sought on Licensing Models for 3.5 GHz:  In December of 2012, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to seek comment on a “Citizens Broadband Service” in the 3.5 GHz band (3550-3560 MHz).  In that NPRM, a three-tiered, license-by-rule approach was suggested to encourage rapid deployment while protecting incumbent users in the band.

In a Public Notice released this month, the FCC is seeking comment on alternative licensing concepts referred to as a Revised Framework focused on licensing and authorization concepts for the band.  Input received in response to this Public Notice (PN) will be incorporated into a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  (FNPRM) which will be released prior to any decision.

Because the 3.5 GHz band has incumbent federal operations, the FCC is looking to use it as a model for future licensing/coexistence schemes in other encumbered spectrum bands.  Technical rules would focus on deployment of low-powered cells to encourage increase in spectrum reuse and broadband capacity.  As originally proposed, use of the band would be governed by a dynamic Spectrum Access System (SAS) which would accommodate three different user tiers:

  • Incumbent Access
    • Federal and grandfathered FSS users already operating in the band
  • Priority Access
    • Users such as utilities, public safety entities, hospitals, with critical quality-of-service needs who would operate at specific locations with some interference protection
  • General Authorized Access (GAA)
    • Would use the band opportunistically within designated geographic areas.  GAA users would have to accept interference from incumbent and Priority Access users

Commenters to the December 2012 NPRM supported making the 3.5 GHz band available for shared commercial broadband use but were divided on the characterization of the three access tiers.  Many commenters thought that the Priority Access tier should be accessible by commercial carriers and not limited to critical access facilities.  Others supported encouraging significant GAA usage while limiting Priority Access to mission critical and indoor or private campus use.  Still others thought that the GAA tier should be eliminated.

The November PN outlines and seeks comment on what it calls the core concepts of the Revised Framework:

  • An SAS to dynamically manage frequency assignments and automatically enforce access to the Priority Access and GAA tiers
  • The Priority Access tier would have:
    • Open eligibility
    • Granular but administratively-streamlined licensing
    • Mutually exclusive spectrum rights subject to licensing by auction
    • Opportunities for critical infrastructure facilities to obtain priority spectrum use within specific facilities  (such as a building)
  • A defined “floor” of GAA spectrum availability
  • Additional GAA access to unused Priority Access bandwidth managed by the SAS
  • A set of baseline technical standards to prevent harmful interference and promote productive use of the spectrum

Comments were due December 5; Reply Comments are due December 20. The text of the Public Notice is available at:

SAS Workshop To Be HeldThe FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology has postponed its planned workshop on the proposed 3.5 GHz Spectrum Access System (SAS).  The workshop was to have been held on December 11, but has been rescheduled for Tuesday, January 14, 2014 from 9-3:30 pm.  The workshop is open to the public and will be held in the Commission meeting room at FCC Headquarters in Washington, DC. The text of the Public Notice is available at:

 Call for Papers on SAS:  Prior to the workshop, the FCC is calling for papers on the proposed Spectrum Access System (SAS).  According to the proposal outlined in the December 2012 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, access to the 3.5 GHz band would be governed by a dynamic SAS similar to the database used for TV Whitespace. The effectiveness of the proposed spectrum sharing at 3.5 GHz depends upon the reliability and functionality of the SAS.  The SAS would likely take inputs from incumbents and other authorized users on their spectrum utilization.  That information would be shared with existing and potential 3.5 GHz users to determine spectrum availability.

The SAS would have to have certain basic capabilities: access to a dynamic stream of specific spectrum usage and interference data; a baseline set of methods for interpreting this data to determine permissible operations for the various tiers of users; a timely way to identify remedies to interference issues; a way to monitor and enforce compliance.

Papers submitted in response to the Public Notice should be filed by January 3 and structured to address the four areas on which the Workshop will focus: General Responsibilities and Composition of the SAS; Key SAS Functional Requirements; SAS Management and Monitoring of Spectrum Use; Issues Related to Initial Launch and Evolution of SAS and Band Planning. The text of the Public Notice is available at:

 State of Maine Waiver Request to Conduct Two-Way Voice Operations on a Paging-Only Frequency Granted:  The State of Maine’s request for a waiver to conduct two-way voice operations on a VHF frequency limited to paging-only operations has been granted.  In its waiver request, Maine explained that it had conducted a thorough search of PS pool VHF frequencies at the particular site and found the only available frequency to be one limited to paging-only, 157.450.  The state itself is the only licensee on the frequency within the state and asked to be permitted to use it for two-way voice because Maine “no longer had a need for public safety paging.” The text of the Order is available at:

 International Association of Auto Theft Investigators Waiver Request to Allow Continued Wideband Operations of Vehicular Locator Units:  The FCC is seeking comment on a partial waiver of the May 27, 2019 deadline by which Stolen Vehicle Recovery Systems (SVRS) that operate on 173.075 must transition to 12.5 kHz operations. The International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) formed in 1952 and has over 3500 members representing law enforcement agencies and others with a legitimate interest in auto theft prevention and investigation.

The requested waiver is sought on an indefinite basis and would apply only to Vehicle Locator Units (VLUs), not base stations.  LoJack, the sole SVRS provider in the United States can activate wideband VLUs using narrowband base stations.  The VLUs would transmit wideband (20 kHz) emissions only when being tracked by law enforcement.  IAATI argues that the wideband VLUs are installed in older vehicles which are prime targets for theft, particularly for parts because auto manufacturers generally stop producing parts for vehicles older than 10 years.  There is a strong law enforcement interest in being able to track vehicles with wideband VLUs.  By using VLUs to locate stolen older vehicles, law enforcement often discovers “chop shops” and other locations where additional criminal activity often takes place.  IAATI’s waiver request includes a letter of support from LoJack who explains that it is unfeasible if not impossible to attempt to recall and replace all deployed wideband VLUs.  Wideband VLUs will eventually cease to be in operation through natural attrition.

The FCC is seeking comment on the extent to which adjacent federal users will receive harmful interference from wideband VLUs operating on 173.075 after May 27, 2019 and on the indefinite aspect of the request.  If an extension of the deadline is warranted, should that extension be for a set period of time?  Comments are due December 26; Reply Comments are due January 9, 2014. A copy of the Public Notice is available at:

 800 MHz News

Sprint Waiver to Deploy LTE in Portions of Florida Granted:  Sprint has been deploying 5×5 MHz LTE technology in the 864-869 MHz band in those NPSPAC Regions where rebanding has been declared 100 percent complete.  NPSPAC Region 9 (Florida) has completed 800 MHz band configuration except for two licensees – Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida. Sprint had requested a waiver to operate LTE in the 56 Florida counties where rebanding has been completed.  In its waiver request, Sprint asserted that operation of LTE in Florida would not cause harmful interference to Miami-Dade County and the State of Florida and provided letters of support from those two licensees.

The waiver request was granted with the following conditions:

  • Sprint must maintain a co-channel mileage      separation of at least 80 miles between any of its sites in the 56      counties named in the waiver request and any incumbent facilities of      Miami-Dade and the State of Florida still operating in the 866-869 MHz      band.
  • Sprint must provide Miami-Dade and the State of      Florida with 30 days advance notice prior to initiation of operations
  • LTE may not be deployed in the 11 counties listed      in Attachment B of the decision until rebanding is 100% complete in      Florida

The text of the decision is available at:

 Rebanding Timeline Extensions Granted:  In November the FCC resolved a number of requests for extensions of time to complete certain tasks related to rebanding in the Mexican border areas.  Four requests for additional time to submit costs estimates to Sprint Nextel were granted, one request for additional time to complete a Frequency Relocation Agreement and one request for additional time to negotiate a Planning Funding Agreement were granted.  In the each of the decisions, the FCC stressed that it did not routinely grant extensions of time, particularly extensions related to the rebanding process since a delay by one party can have a domino effect and create an overall delay in the program.  However, since the extensions requested were of a short duration, the requests were granted.  The specific cases are these:

Gilcomm LLC:  Gilcomm sought a short extension (until December 2, 2013) of the November 20 deadline to submit its cost estimate to Sprint Nextel.  It has a combined EDACs trunked system and EF Johnson LTR system on which it has been diligently gathering data and has prepared a partial Transition Plan.  Because of the complexities of the combined EDACs/LTR system, certain cost estimates must be verified for accuracy. The text of the Order is available at:

 Pandol Brothers Inc.:  In its extension request, Pandol Brothers indicated that its employees had been confused about the requirements of the FCC’s rebanding order until their counsel explained the proceeding to them. They are now committed to “prompt participation” in the process but need a little extra time to obtain quotes from vendors.  Pandol Brothers was given until December 2 to provide a rebanding cost proposal to Sprint. The text of the Order is available at:

Action Communications et al:  Action Communications, a 5-channel trunked system located in Tucson, AZ,  had sought a short extension of the deadline to provide rebanding cost estimates on behalf of itself and four other licensees.  It argued that the extension was needed because the TA had revised its channel replacement proposal making it difficult to assess the costs in time to comply with the deadline.

The text of the Order is available at:

Regents of the University of California:  The Regents of the University of California sought extensions of the deadline to provide rebanding cost estimates to Sprint at four of its campuses in Southern California.  The Regents were requesting a few days after receipt of the vendor’s cost proposal for each campus in order to obtain signatures, or prepare their own portion of the cost estimate. In each case, the extension was granted, with a different date for each campus. The text of the Order is available at:

Glendale Police Department:  The City of Glendale, AZ,had requested until December 6, 2013 to complete a Frequency Relocation Agreement with Sprint.  In its request, Glendale explained that there had been some confusion as to whether or not its frequencies would be included as part of another agency’s rebanding efforts.  That confusion has been cleared up but the City will need a short timeline extension in order to complete its FRA. The text of the Order is available at:

State of California:  The Transition Administrator (TA) Mediator had filed a Recommended Resolution and Request for Waiver (RR) on behalf of the State of California to extend the deadline by which the State and Sprint were required to adopt a Planning Funding Agreement (PFA).  The mediation period between California and Sprint expired on November 4 without a PFA.  The TA mediator sought an extension until December 16, 2013 for the parties to adopt a PFA. The text of the decision is available at:

700 MHz News

Region 50 700 MHz Regional Plan Approved:  The FCC approved Region 50 (Texas-El Paso) 700 MHz Regional Plan on Friday, November 15.  This brings the number of approved 700 MHz Regional Plans to a total of 47. The text of the Public Notice is available at:

Public Safety Advocate, December 13, 2013, Courtesy Andy Seybold

The Big news this week is the moving of the Incentive Auction to 2015. This is one of the auctions which will provide funding for the FirstNet $7 Billion and I was disappointed in the new timing. However, this is a very difficult auction, since the TV stations get a chance to opt-in and then the spectrum is auctioned.

The Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) held it’s second meeting this week at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Brunswick, GA. It was well attended, including a number of FirstNet executives. The session was good, and there was a very healthy exchange and dialogue between the PSAC and FirstNet.

The FirstNet Board of Directors meeting will be held in Denver next week and we should learn more about the progress that has been made and next steps.

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NPSTC Outreach News December 7, 2013

December 6, 2013npstc daily news header

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) periodically publishes news of interest, including releases from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and links to articles from various trade publications.

FirstNet Will Meet on December 16 and 17, 2013: The FirstNet Board will convene open public meetings of the Board Committees on December 16, 2013, in Denver, Colorado. There will be sequential meetings of FirstNet’s four committees: (1) Governance and Personnel Committee; (2) Finance, Audit and Budget Committee; (3) Planning and Technology Committee; and (4) Outreach Committee. The meetings are open to the public and press, and will be webcast. The FirstNet Board will convene an open public meeting on December 17, 2013, in Denver, Colorado 80207. This meeting is open to the public and press, and will be webcast.

 FirstNet Releases RFI Regarding Applications:  The First Responder Network Authority issued a request for information (RFI) on application platforms for the LTE-based nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) by issuing. “Mobile apps running on the FirstNet nationwide broadband network will transform the way public safety completes its mission,” said FirstNet General Manager Bill D’Agostino. “We want to hear from all interested stakeholders on their creative and innovative ideas on how this platform should operate.”  The RFI seeks input on eight specific areas, including mobile device application solutions, mobile app stores, Big Data/ API and cloud solutions, public safety data from agencies, data security, app testing and certification, publisher interfaces, and identity management. RFI responses are due Jan. 17, 2014. To view the RFI, visit this link:

Urgent Communications Reports that FirstNet has Stopped Negotiating with Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Grant Recipients:  FirstNet is awaiting word from some to determine whether their public-safety LTE  projects can be integrated into the FirstNet nationwide broadband network for first responders, according to FirstNet General Manager Bill D’Agostino.

“We stopped negotiations on [Nov. 15], and we did not ask for any additional extensions,” D’Agostino said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications conducted at the LTE North America conference in Dallas.

To date, only two BTOP recipients—LA-RICS and the state of New Mexico—have signed a spectrum-lease agreement with FirstNet that would allow them to use the 20 MHz of contiguous 700 MHz broadband spectrum licensed to FirstNet. Although negotiations with BTOP entities have stopped, these entities still have the option of agreeing to language that FirstNet offered as of Nov. 15, D’Agostino said.

“There’s some that may [agree to a spectrum-lease deal]; that’s still to be determined,” he said, noting that such deals likely would be considered by the FirstNet board during its meeting scheduled for Dec. 17. Read More at:

NPSTC Broadband Working Group Begins Work of Quantifying Launch Requirements:    The scope of the effort will focus on quantifying only those existing requirements in the Launch SoR.  So, quantitative requirements that are outside of the Launch SoR scope will be excluded from this SoR effort. The current target for completion of this project is April/May of 2014, in anticipation of a FirstNet RFP on the Enhanced Packet Core (EPC) due sometime in the summer of 2014.

The current plan is to do this work in two overall phases. The first phase will be a collaboration effort between both public safety and industry representatives to iron out the overall details of the work, while the second phase will be a public safety only effort to edit the results into a final vision from the public safety community.

The first step in phase one is to, based on the overall table of contents for the Launch SoR, create small (3-5 person) teams to go through each of the sections and make recommendations as to which of the requirements in their section should have companion quantitative requirements. The BBWG will bring all of these recommendations back together into a single spreadsheet that will be issued to the entire Statement of Requirements (SoR) group for comment. Once we have a final list of which quantitative requirements have companion quantitative requirements, we will reorganize as necessary and begin work. The BBWG is looking for volunteers from both public safety and industry for the following groups:

1. Governance

2. Policies and Procedures

3. User Services

4. Network Services

5. Transport Services

6. System Design

7. User Equipment

8. Local Operations Support

9. Migration and Evolution

10. Security

11. Priority and Quality of Service

If you would like to volunteer for more than one group that is ok. If you would like to lead a group, please indicate that in your response. Please email with your interests and our team will assemble the various task groups. We are hoping to gather the volunteers and get underway the week of December 9th, with the intent to have a first draft completed around the first week of January.

PSCR R&D Roadmap Workshop Attendees:  More than xxx public safety and industry participants attended the November Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Public Safety Broadband R&D Roadmap Workshop in Boulder, CO.  The input and hard work from the communications community provided valuable inputs for PSCR as they look to the future of the program and of the nationwide public safety broadband network.   To view the presentations and outputs of the workshop and a high-level workshop summary document, PSCR invites you to their website.

Thanks for Re-signing with NPSTC’s Linked In Community: Due to a technical error, the NPSTC Community Linked In account was deleted in late October.  At the time, NPSTC’s Linked In community hosted 1,134 members.  We want you back.  Linked-In Customer Service advised that us that the NPSTC community could not be restored, so we are starting over and wish to invite all 1,134 of you who were previously members of our group to rejoin us and bring your colleagues too. Click here to rejoin: