Regulatory Update June 2014, by Bette Rinehart

Regulatory News    newsheader

  • Comment Sought on National Frequency Coordination, LLC Request to be Certified as a Part 90 Frequency Coordinator; Association of American Railroads Request to be Certified to Coordinate 800/900 MHz Business/Industrial/Land Transportation Frequencies
  • Comment Sought on NPSTC Petition for Rulemaking to Allow Railroad Police to Access Frequencies Reserved for Public Safety Interoperability
  • FCC Levies Hefty Fine for Continuing to Operate on Expired Licenses
  • PSHSB Announces Inquiry into Circumstances Related to a Major 911 Outage on April 9-10

 800 MHz News

  • FCC Acts on Several Requests for Extension of Time to Provide Cost Estimates to Sprint
  • Region 24 (Missouri) Plan Amendment Approved
  • Weld County, Colorado Intercategory Sharing Waiver

700 MHz News 

  • Less Than Two Weeks Remain for States to File State License Substantial Service Benchmark Certifications

Regulatory News

Comment Sought on National Frequency Coordination, LLC Request to be Certified as a Part 90 Frequency Coordinator; Association of American Railroads Request to be Certified to Coordinate 800/900 MHz Business/Industrial/Land Transportation Frequencies.   National Frequency Coordination, LLC (NFC) has filed a request to be certified as a Part 90 frequency coordinator.  In 1986, when the FCC first certified frequency coordinators, it established the following criteria for entities seeking certification:

  • Representative of the users of the frequencies to be coordinated
  • The overall coordination plan (how frequency recommendations will be made and how applicants will be treated equally)
  • Experience coordinating frequencies or technical expertise
  • Nationwide coordination capability

NFC indicates that it was formed in 2013 and its personnel have extensive experience in frequency coordination and spectrum management; it will treat all applicants fairly and in a timely manner with high quality control. NFC seeks certification to coordinate Part 90 frequencies in 800/900 MHz and below 512 MHz. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is currently certified to coordinate land mobile frequencies below 512 MHz and is seeking to add the ability to coordinate frequencies in the 800/900 MHz band for both its members and any eligible non-public safety entity.

Comments are due June 13; Reply Comments are due June 30. The text of the Public Notice is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-653A1.docx.

Comment Sought on NPSTC Petition for Rulemaking to Allow Railroad Police Access to Frequencies Reserved for Public Safety Interoperability. The FCC is seeking comment on a Petition for Rulemaking filed by the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC). NPSTC is seeking a rule change to allow railroad police to be eligible to license and operate on frequencies reserved for public safety interoperability.

The petition states that railroad police do not qualify under the existing rules but have a genuine and increasing need for interoperable communications with local and state law enforcement, emergency medical and fire organizations. NPSTC proposes that the FCC adopt the eligibility criteria supported by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). That eligibility is defined as railroad police who “… are certified and/or commissioned as a police officer under the laws of any state, in accordance with the regulations issued by the Secretary of the US Department of Transportation and employed full time as a railroad police officer for a Class 1, II or III railroad, as defined by the US Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board and recognized by the Federal Railroad Administration.”

Comments are due June 30; Reply Comments are due July 15. The Public Notice is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-747A1.doc

Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Announces Inquiry into Circumstances of a Major 911 Outage on April 9-10, 2014.   The FCC is asking interested parties to provide information about the causes, effects and implications of a 911 outage that occurred on April 9-10, 2014. The outage was centered in Washington State but extended to large areas of Oregon and portions of California. The outage also impacted portions of Minnesota and portions of states in the east coast: North and South Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania. The FCC is anxious to examine the causes, implications and effects of this outage, given the large area impacted.

Comments are due June 16; Reply Comments are due June 30. The text of the Public Notice is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-676A1.docx

FCC Levies Hefty Fine for Continuing to Operate on Expired Licenses. The FCC accessed a Notice of Apparent Liability in the amount of $294,400 on a company for continuing to operate on expired Part 90 licenses.   Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC was issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture because it continued to operate eight wireless radio stations for periods of between ten months to more than two years without a valid station authorization. In addition, the company had transferred control of twelve of its systems (including the eight expired authorizations) without prior Commission approval.

The eight lapsed licenses expired in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The FCC sends courtesy renewal reminders to licensees three months prior to license expiration. Despite receiving these reminders, Constellium failed to file license renewal applications. Once the licenses expired, the company did not file for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to continue to operate while permanent authorizations were obtained until April 2013. In its STA request, Constellium explained that it had not realized that the licenses had expired and admitted to continuing to operate them post-expiration. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau granted the STA request and referred the matter to the Enforcement Bureau.

In August 2013, the Enforcement Bureau (EB) sent Constellium a LOI seeking additional information. In its response to the EB, Constellium admitted that it had continued to operate its eight systems after the licenses had expired but indicated that its failure to comply with FCC rules was due to many factors including unfamiliarity with licensing requirements, the renewal reminders being sent to their corporate headquarters rather than to the licensed facilities, several changes in procedure and personnel and a seven-week strike by personnel at one of its facilities. Constellium said that it regretted the incident but its noncompliance was inadvertent and would not reoccur because of the many precautions implemented as a direct result of this occurrence.

The EB was unsympathetic to Constellium’s explanations. It noted that the company had initially discovered the eight expired licenses in June or July of 2012 but continued to operate for another ten months before filing for STAs.

Note: research on the eight expired licenses shows that all were Industrial/Business (IG) systems operating at 25 kHz bandwidth. Four were for old, secondary, 2 watt, mobile only, UHF 12.5 kHz offset frequencies which had not been updated to meet 01/01/2013 narrowbanding requirements. Two were for UHF repeater systems, which had been modified in 2011 to add three narrowband emissions (11K0F3E, 7K60FXE, 4K00F1D). Two were for 72 MHz.   NAL is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-14-68A1.docx

800 MHz News

FCC Acts on Several Requests for Extension of Time to Provide Cost Estimates to Sprint. This month the FCC responded to several requests for extension of time to provide cost estimates to Sprint. The following are the details:

Southern California Edison:    SCE had sought an extension until July 10, 2014 indicating that it would receive a statement of work (SOW) from its vendor by May 30 and would need until July 10 to perform a thorough review of the SOW. The FCC denied the request pointing out that this was SCE’s third request for additional time; that it had not explained what was involved in the “thorough review” and stating the Commission’s belief that a sufficiently thorough review could be completed by June 16 on which date it must provide Sprint with a cost estimate. Decision is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-620A1.docx

Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council:  had sought an extension until June 30, 2014 to submit a cost estimate because of several factors. The subscribers are owned by 46 different entities making it a “complex undertaking” to conduct an inventory; the infrastructure is composed of equipment from multiple vendors; there are space constraints at all sites requiring negotiation with site owners. The FCC found that the Council had been working diligently towards developing its cost estimate and was requesting no longer than necessary. The Council was particularly praised for making contact with Sprint to discuss the methodology of rebanding its system. The extension request was granted. Decision is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-624A1.doc

Orange County, CA: The County had originally sought and been granted an extension until June 22 to submit its cost estimate. That date was predicated on receiving a Statement of Work from its vendor by May 22. The vendor was unable to meet the May 22 deadline, stating that the County’s system was one of the most challenging rebanding projects that it had ever done. The vendor promised to provide the Statement of Work by June 13. The County needs an additional month to review the SOW and seeks a new cost estimate deadline of July 14. The FCC granted the extension noting that the County had exercised diligence in providing information needed to create the SOW and that a month to review the SOW was reasonable given the size of the system. Decision is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-623A1.doc

City of Mission, Texas: The City had sought a 15-day extension (until May 27) of its May 13 deadline to provide its cost estimate. The City was unable to meet its deadline because its vendor was unable to provide the SOW until May 12. The City needed 15 days to review the SOW. The FCC granted the short extension noting that the vendor’s failure to provide the SOW until one day before the deadline was beyond the City’s control. Decision is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-641A1.doc

City of McAllen, Texas: The City had requested a second extension of time to provide a cost estimate (until July 31, 2014). The City maintained that the replacement frequencies provided by the TA were incompatible with its system’s combiner because some of the frequencies were spaced less than 250 kHz apart. This channel spacing will require either a new combiner or installation of an additional antenna which would increase the overall lifetime costs of operating the system. McAllen is asking that coverage maps be run to verify that a new combiner would not adversely impact the system’s coverage. Another alternative that the City is exploring is joining an existing Regional Radio System. That alternative would require replacement of all its existing subscriber units. McAllen is seeking additional time to review all its options and make the best choice. The FCC was not persuaded by McAllen’s arguments and denied the extension request. McAllen must provide its cost estimate by June 30. Decision is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-744A1.docx

Weslaco Independent School District: Weslaco sought a third extension (until July 1, 2014) to provide a cost estimate. Its most recent deadline was June 1, a date dependent upon receiving a Reconfiguration Implementation Phase Agreement (RIPA) from its vendor by May 17. The school district does not explain why that deadline could not be met, but indicates that the RIPA will not be provided until June 25. The FCC commended Weslaco for committing to review the RIPA and provide a cost estimate within 1 week. It granted the requested extension but stated that it would not be receptive to further extension requests. Decision is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-745A1.docx

Enterprise Wireless Alliance Request for Reconsideration of Weld County, Colorado Intercategory Sharing Waiver.   In 2012, Weld County, Colorado sought and, in 2013, was granted a waiver of the intercategory sharing freeze to license two industrial/business pool frequencies because no suitable PS frequencies were available. While the application was pending, Nextel-vacated spectrum became available for public safety use in the Weld County area making the premise on which the waiver was filed (lack of PS frequencies) invalid.

Weld County’s application was granted on April 5, 2013 and the County constructed the system as authorized. The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) filed a request for reconsideration of Weld County’s grant stating that two Nextel-vacated (NVS) public safety frequencies were available in lieu of the I/B pool frequencies and that the FCC should require Weld County to use those frequencies.

Weld County responded that the NVS frequencies were too closely spaced to be accommodated in its system without a costly redesign of its combiners and the use of additional antennas. In a subsequent filing, EWA said that it would withdraw its petition if the FCC assigned the two NVS frequencies it had identified to the I/B pool.

The FCC declined to revoke Weld County’s license but did decide that, going forward, requests for waiver of the intercategory sharing rules will not be granted if, at the time the FCC reaches the request, the premise on which the waiver was sought is no longer valid. Waiver applicants must keep their waiver requests current or risk dismissal or, if granted, revocation. The Commission found that it did not have the authority (or inclination) to re-designate the EWA-identified frequencies as I/B pool.

The text of the decision is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-718A1.doc

Region 24 (Missouri) NPSPAC Plan Amendment Approved. The FCC has approved the NPSPAC plan amendment sought by Region 24 (Missouri). The proposed changes were all administrative in nature and did not require the consent of adjacent Regions. The approved changes are:

  • The Regional Review Committee’s (RRC) duties have been modified to include review of all new submitted 800 MHz applications.
  • The re-written RRC section clarifies the RRC’s application review process, coordination requirements and existing duties.
  • Amends the Plan to reflect the new interoperable channel names associated with the APCO ANSI standard nomenclature recommendations.
  • Updates the Chairperson name and contact information.

Public Notice is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-746A1.docx

700 MHz News

Less Than Two Weeks Remain For States to File State License Substantial Service Certifications.  The 700 MHz narrowband geographic licenses are fast approaching the first build-out deadline. In 2002, the FCC granted to each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands a geographic license for 2.5 MHz of narrowband spectrum. By June 13, 2014, each state licensee must provide a certification to the FCC indicating that, at minimum, the state is providing or is “prepared to provide” service to 1/3 of the statepopulation or territory. Failure to satisfy this build-out requirement could result in the state’s licensed narrowband spectrum reverting to the control of the relevant Regional Planning Committee.

To date, only 15 states have filed certifications. Two states have cancelled their state licenses. Over half of the states have not yet filed their certifications.  The FCC released a Public Notice in April providing guidance to the states on the information that will be required to verify that a state has met the first benchmark. That Public Notice is available at: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-467A1.docx.

Guidance is also available on the NPSTC website at:

https://www.google.com/url?q=http://npstc.org/documents/700%2520MHz%2520State%2520License%2520Progress%2520Report%2520Required%2520110331.pdf&sa=U&ei=bt2MU5TAMMqV8gGMn4DQBQ&ved=0CAUQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNFkTGjlyxC9vfdbWCyA9kPuy7Uq1w

States that have constructed systems under their state license authorization must file substantial service certifications by June 13 or risk losing that authorization.