NPSTC’s Regulatory Update: Summer 2014

Articles provided by Bette Rinehart, NPSTC Editorial Task Group Chair

Regulatory News

Model City for Demonstrating/Evaluating Advanced Spectrum Sharing Technologies Sought by FCC, NTIA, and OET. The FCC, NTIA, and OET are seeking comment on a recommendation by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), that the Secretary of Commerce create a public/private partnership to foster the establishment of an urban test city. The test city, or “model city” would support rapid experimentation and development of policies, technologies and system capabilities for dynamic spectrum sharing. The model city could include large-scale facilities for systems-level testing in real-world environments over multiple frequency bands including public safety and certain federal bands.

In a Joint Public Notice (JPN), the agencies seek to promote the model city concept in conjunction with the new Center for Advanced Communications (CAC) created by NTIA and NIST and within the FCC’s current experimental licensing program.  The JPN seeks comment on:

  • The extent to which the Model City could or should be a self-organizing effort
  • Could the Model City take advantage of recent changes to the FCC’s experimental licensing rules? What type of agreements (formal or informal) would be necessary between the participants? Is there a role for the FCC beyond administering the experimental licensing?
  • Should the Model City program be managed by the federal government?
  • What role could the CAC play in managing the activities within a Model City to protect incumbent licensees from interference while assuring that innovators have access to sufficient spectrum resources?
  • Methods to solicit or identify eligible cities interesting in hosting a Model City deployment. What features of a candidate Model City would be most attractive?
  • Funding mechanisms

Comments are due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. The text of the Joint Public Notice is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-981A1.docx

Comment Sought on Spectrum Networks LLC Applications and Waiver Request to Provide Private, Internal Machine-to-Machine Communications to Businesses on 900 MHz Business/Industrial/Land Transportation Frequencies. The FCC is seeking comment on several applications filed by Spectrum Networks Group (SNG) seeking authorization for 900 MHz Business/Industrial/Land Transportation frequencies. Spectrum Networks proposes to construct a 900 MHz network on B/ILT frequencies that it will use to provide “machine-to-machine” communications for business eligibles. The network will not serve individuals or the federal government. SNG believes that this type of network is permitted within the rules, but seeks a waiver just in case. SNG argues that its proposed network would use fallow B/ILT frequencies solely for B/ILT purposes and bring about “the machine-to-machine revolution.” EWA filed an informal opposition to SNG’s applications earlier this year arguing that they proposed an SMR service on non-SMR frequencies and questioning SNG’s business plan. SNG responded that EWA’s opposition was undermined by its role as a frequency coordinator and asserting that their applications were not speculative.  The FCC seeks comment on SNG’s applications and the associated waiver request. Comments were due July 30; Reply Comments were due August 11. The text of the Public Notice is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-848A1.docx

Reply Comment Dates Extended in the 3.5-3.6 GHz Proceeding. The FCC has extended the Reply Comment deadline for the proceeding seeking input on proposals to establish a Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service in the 3550-3650 MHz band. Reply Comments are now due August 15. The text of the Public Notice is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1071A1.docx

Narrowbanding News

Del Norte County, CA Request for a Permanent Waiver of the Narrowband Deadline Denied. In 2012 Del Norte County, CA had converted its VHF system from wideband (25 kHz) to narrowband (12.5 kHz) operations. Upon doing so, it experienced a 40% loss of coverage in its operational area. The County worked with its vendor to attempt to resolve the coverage loss by ensuring that its equipment was fully optimized but the problem remained. The loss in coverage placed the County’s first responders at risk. To resolve the issue, Del Norte County, CA had sought a permanent waiver of the narrowband deadline to allow it to convert back to 25 kHz operations. The County stated that its only other option was to construct three to five additional towers. However, it lacked the funds to implement this option. Del Norte also pointed out that narrowbanding was not necessary in the County because there is no spectrum scarcity.

The FCC denied the waiver request because it felt that the County had not provided sufficient justification. While the FCC has granted temporary waivers of the narrowband deadline when petitioners have shown good cause, it has never granted a permanent waiver. Although the FCC recognized the County’s financial constraints, lack of funding is not sufficient justification for a permanent waiver. Del Norte County’s spectrum abundance might be true today but cannot be assumed to be a permanent condition. The Commission also pointed out that its rules prohibit manufacturers from making or selling wide-band capable equipment. The County wouldn’t be able to maintain or replace its equipment making the system progressively more obsolete. The text of the Order is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1067A1.docx

800 MHz News

Comment Sought on Region 9 (Florida) NPSPAC Plan Amendment. The FCC is seeking comment on Region 9 (Florida) NPSPAC Plan amendment filed in March of this year. The Region proposes six changes to its existing regional plan:

  • Adding Region 23 (Mississippi) to the list of adjacent Regions. Two of Florida’s northern counties are less than 70 miles from Mississippi. Expectation that adjacent Regions will respond to correspondence with 45 days
  • Clarifying loading requirements. TDMA systems must show a loading of 100 mobiles per time slot – e.g. 400 mobiles would qualify for one 25 kHz frequency using TDMA technology.
  • Clarifying that 8CALL90 may be used to aid the Incident Command System process as a coordination frequency during emergencies
  • Adding Mutual Aid Channel Equipment Requirements
  • Explaining the Region’s required submittals for STAs versus permanent applications
  • Identifying the Region’s process for reviewing STAs and permanent applications.

Region 9 included concurrences from the adjacent Regions.   Comments were due August 11; Reply Comments are due August 21. The text of the Public Notice is available at:    https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1081A1.doc

Comment Sought on AT&T Request for Waiver to Permit Use of Power Spectral Density Model for 800 MHz Cellular Operations in Vermont Market. The FCC is seeking comment on a waiver filed in July by AT&T seeking to use Power Spectral Density (PSD) measurements to comply with radiated power limits in the Burlington, Vermont cellular market area. AT&T proposes a PSD limit of 250 watts/MHz in non-rural areas and 500 watts/MHz in rural areas. The company provided a study that it claims demonstrates that using the proposed PSD-based power limits will not cause harmful interference to incumbent PS licensees.

In its request, the City stated that it had no need to operate base stations and plans to use its mobile units only for low power simplex voice operations at the scene of emergencies. It selected Canadian primary frequencies for this purpose to avoid interference from high-power users of US primary frequencies and to avoid rebanding issues. It indicates that because the Canadian border is 35 km from the edge of its requested area of operation there should be no interference to Canada.

The waiver of 90.613 to operate mobile units on “high side” frequencies was granted because the FCC was persuaded that the underlying purpose of the rule would not be served. Mobile units are restricted from operating on high side frequencies without an associated repeater in order to reduce the potential for interference to other mobile units monitoring that frequency. Since Cleveland Heights’ proposed operation is for low-power, on-scene use and on Canadian-primary frequencies, there is little change for interference.

The waivers of the Canadian border application freeze and to operate on Canadian primary frequencies were dismissed as moot. The text of the Order is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1081A1.doc

FCC Grants City of Cleveland Heights, OH Waiver to Operate Mobiles on 800 MHz “High Side” Frequencies. The City of Cleveland Heights, Ohio had filed an application in January seeking a waiver to operate mobiles in simplex mode on the “high side” of six 800 MHz frequencies. The rules (90.613) state that in order for mobile units to operate on the high side (base transmit) of an 800 MHz frequency, there must be an associated repeater. The City also requested a waiver of the Canadian border application freeze and a waiver to operate on frequencies that are primary to Canada.

Comments were due August 5; Reply Comments are due August 15.  The text of the Public Notice is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1003A1.docx