NPSTC’s Regulatory Update, September 2014, Articles Provided by Bette Rinehart

In this Regulatory News: 

  • FCC Adopts Text-to-911 Rules and Seeks Comment on More Text-to-911 proposals
  • Part 17 Rules Related to Antenna Structures Streamlined and Clarified
  • Comment Sought on Sprint’s Request for Wideband Operations in New Mexico and Texas
  • FCC Approves Municipality of Anchorage’s Waiver to Operate at 50 kHz Bandwidth on 700 MHz Narrowband Frequencies
  • Application Process for Entities Interested in Participating in the Rural Broadband Experiments Announced
  • AAR Certified as Frequency Coordinator for 800/900 MHz
  • TA Declares Four More NPSPAC Regions 100% Complete with 800 MHz Rebanding
  • Regional Planning Committee Meetings

FCC Adopts Rules to Promote Text-to-9-1-1. In August, the FCC adopted rules to require that all wireless carriers and certain IP-based text application providers are prepared to support text-to-9-1-1 by the end of the year. The four largest wireless carriers had voluntarily agreed to support text-to-9-1-1 by May of this year. This rulemaking will ensure that the remaining carriers support the service. In a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC is seeking comment on the continued evolution of text-to-9-1-1 including:

  • Approaches and a timeframe for covered text providers to provide enhanced location accuracy on texts-to-9-1-1
  • A proposal to require covered text providers to provide roaming support for text-to-9-1-1 no later than two years after the effective date of final rules on roaming
  • 9-1-1 text message delivered over Wi-Fi and non-CMRS networks
  • Non-interconnected text messages
  • Rich media services

Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register; Reply Comments are due 60 days after Federal Register Publication. The text of the News Release is available at:https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-328755A1.docx.

The text of the 2nd Report & Order and 3rd Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-14-118A1.docx.

Part 17 Rules Clarified and Streamlined.   The FCC has released a Report & Order in which it attempts to clarify and streamline Part 17 rules governing the lighting, marking, construction and registration of antenna structures.

Any antenna structure that requires prior notification to the FAA must also be registered with the FCC using the Antenna Structure Registration system on ULS. After receiving a notification from a tower owner proposing to construct a new tower, the FAA will review the filing to determine whether the structure will pose a hazard to air traffic. The FAA also determines the appropriate painting and lighting for the structure. Once its review is complete, the FAA sends the tower owner an acknowledgement and a determination of “no hazard to air navigation” if the structure is marked and illuminated as described in the study.

FAA review must be complete before a tower owner can register the structure with the FCC. The tower owner must include the FAA’s study and “no hazard” determination. The FCC then issues an ASR form which assigns the structure an ASR number. The ASR includes the FAA’s “no hazard” marking and lighting recommendations; if a tower owner fails to comply with the marking and lighting recommendations, the FCC’s Compliance Bureau may issue a fine. Failure to provide proper tower marking and lighting has been the leading cause of Compliance Bureau action in recent years.

In the Report & Order, the FCC made the following changes to the Part 17 rules governing antenna structures:

  • Eliminated any references to FAA Advisory Circulars. Structure owners must comply with the FAA’s “no hazard” determination for the particular structure.
  • Will not require existing antenna structures to comply with new lighting and marking requirements unless the FAA changes the requirements for that structure.
  • Prior approval is required for changes or corrections to existing towers that are greater than 1 second in latitude/longitude or 1 foot in antenna height.
  • Changed the deadline for tower owners to notify the FCC of construction or dismantlement of a structure; changes in the structure’s height or ownership from 24 hours to 5 days consistent with FAA requirements.
  • Will continue to allow antenna structure owners to voluntarily register their towers but will add a section to the form that will allow the applicant to indicate that the filing is voluntary.
  • Part 17 painting and lighting requirements will not be applied to voluntarily registered structures.
  • Antenna structure owners must display the ASR number “so that it is visible to a member of the general public who reaches the closest publicly assessable location near the antenna structure base.” When there is more than one “publicly assessable location” the ASR number must be posted at each location. Posting at both the access point and the base of the tower “will not generally” be required. When one fence surrounds a facility containing more than one antenna structure, the ASR number must be posted at the access point(s) and at the base of the antenna structure.
  • Tower owners can provide ASR numbers to tenants via email with a link to the FCC’s ASR site or other electronic means.
  • Tower structure owners who employ qualified Network-Operating-Center (NOC)-based monitoring systems are exempt from conducting quarterly inspections
  • Adopted the FAA’s “In Service Aviation Orange Tolerance Chart” as the benchmark to determine whether a structure needs to be cleaned or repainted.
  • Require owners to notify the FAA if a lighting outage can’t be repaired within the FAA’s original NOTAM period. Owners must continue to provide updates every NOTAM period until the lights are repaired.
  • All repairs (lighting, alarm, automatic indicators, etc.) must be made “as soon as practicable.”
  • Antenna structure owners must maintain records of all known or observed lighting outages or improper functioning for a period of 2 years.
  • Revised the definitions of antenna structure owner and antenna structure to include the underlying structure that supports the antennas and the owners of those structures.
  • Clarified that a structure is considered an antenna structure from the time construction starts to when it is dismantled regardless of whether or not any radio energy is being transmitted from the structure. An antenna structure owner’s responsibility continues until the structure is permanently dismantled.
  • Clarified that antenna structures have to be registered only if notice to FAA is required (due to antenna height or proximity to airport).

The text of the News Release is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-328760A1.doc

The text of the Report & Order is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-14-117A1.docx

Comment Sought on Sprint’s Request to Permit Wideband Operations in Portions of New Mexico and Texas.  The FCC is seeking comment on waivers filed by Sprint asking to use 866-869 MHz for wideband operations in 28 out of the 33 counties in New Mexico (Region 29); 46 out of 49 counties in Region 50 (Texas-El Paso) and 30 out of 47 counties in Region 53 (Texas-San Antonio) in which PS incumbents have completed rebanding. Comments are due September 25; Reply Comments are due October 10.   The text of the Public Notice is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1238A1.docx

FCC Approves Waiver for 700 MHz Wideband (50 kHz) Operations. The FCC has granted a waiver filed by the Municipality of Anchorage, AK allowing it to replace its 14-year-old 800 MHz data system with a new IP-based 700 MHz data system. In its waiver, Anchorage had sought authority to aggregate 700 MHz narrowband frequencies to create 50 kHz frequencies on which to operate its data system. The 50 kHz bandwidth was required in order to provide a 128 kbps data rate. Rule section 90.531(d)(1) limits aggregation of 700 MHz narrowband spectrum to a maximum bandwidth of 25 kHz.

In granting the waiver, the Commission noted that Anchorage’s proposed system would use only about 13% of the narrowband spectrum available in the Region, the Municipality had the support of the Regional Planning Committee and no agency opposed the waiver request. The Commission also agreed that to obtain the desired data rates, frequencies wider than 25 kHz bandwidth would be required. While noting that FirstNet was in the process of having state consultations to develop its nationwide broadband network, the FCC was persuaded that the proposed wideband network would meet Anchorage’s current data needs. It felt that requiring Anchorage to operate at less than desired data speeds simply to comply with 90.531(d)(1) was unduly burdensome.

Anchorage had also sought a waiver on behalf of its equipment vendor, CalAmp so that it could manufacture and sell equipment capable of operating at bandwidths greater than 25 kHz. After determining that the proposed equipment would meet the industry-proposed ACP limits for wideband equipment developed in 2005, the Commission granted this aspect of the waiver as well. CalAmp must obtain a permissive change to add wideband emission to its currently certified equipment. Sale of the wideband equipment is limited to the Municipality of Anchorage for use in its IP-based mobile data network.

The text of the Order is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1242A1.docx

Application Process for Entities Interested in Participating in the Rural Broadband Experiments Announced. The FCC has released a lengthy Public Notice explaining the process to be used by entities interested in seeking rural broadband experiment funding. Up to $100 million has been budgeted for funding to support experiments in high-cost and extremely high-cost price cap areas focused on bringing next-generation voce and broadband data services to residential and small business locations in rural areas. Applications must be submitted electronically via the FCC’s Auction System no later than 6 pm October 14, 2014. The text of the Public Notice is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1203A1.docx

TA Declares Rebanding Complete in Four More NPSPAC Regions. During August, the Transition Administrator (TA) filed paperwork with the FCC declaring that 800 MHz band reconfiguration had been completed in four NPSPAC Regions: Idaho (Region 12), Kansas (Region 16), Missouri (Region 24), and Montana (Region 25).

AAR Certified to Coordinate 800/900 MHz Frequencies. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has been certified by the FCC to coordinate 800 and 900 MHz frequencies in the Industrial/Business/Land Transportation pools. AAR, who holds licenses in the 800/900 MHz band, may not coordinate applications on its own behalf.

The text of the Public Notice is available at:

https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1163A1.docx

Regional Planning Committee Meetings Announced

Region 30 (New York-Albany) is holding a combined 700/800 MHz RPC meeting on September 17 in Albany. The text of the Public Notice is available at:  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1208A1.docx

Region 24 (Missouri) will hold 700 MHz and 800 MHz Planning meetings on September 23 in St. Peters, MO. The text of the Public Notice is available at:  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1166A1.docx

Region 21 (Michigan) will hold a combined 700/800 MHz RPC meeting on September 26 in Tustin, MI. The text of the Public Notice is available at:  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1247A1.docx

Region 10 (Georgia) is holding a combined 700/800 MHz RPC meeting on October 16 in Forsyth, GA. The text of the Public Notice is available at:  https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1193A1.docx