NPSTC FCC Regulatory Update, December 2013

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       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: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-13-144A1.docx

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:http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2152A1.docx

 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: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2213A1.docx

 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: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2186A1.doc

 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: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2256A1.docx

 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: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2262A1.docx

 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:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2269A1.docx

 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:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2272A1.docx

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:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2268A1.docx

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:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2234A1.docx

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:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2270A1.docx

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:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2280A1.docx

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:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-13-2194A1.docx