Articles provided by Bette Rinehart, NPSTC Editorial Task Group Chair
FCC Denies Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Waiver Request
In September the FCC denied a request for waiver of either rule section 90.20 or 90.173(h) in order to operate its base stations licensed on 159.045 and 159.075 on a co-primary basis with mobile units. The rules allow base stations to operate on these frequencies only on a secondary, non-interference basis. Secondary operations must accept any interference they receive from primary users and must address and resolve any interference they cause to primary operations up to and including ceasing operations.
In its waiver request, the Turnpike asked to elevate its base station operations to primary status. It explained that the frequencies were used in a state-wide system comprised of 26 conventional base stations and 3000 mobile units. The state-wide system is used to support public safety operations including routine and inclement weather highway maintenance and to coordinate with local law enforcement, PENNDOT, military personnel, towing companies, firefighting and ambulance crews, state police and utilities. The system also relays status updates to those travelling on the turnpike.
The Turnpike argued that a secondary condition on its license had presented a serious concern to public safety and had “technically, financially and operationally placed immense challenges and impediments “on its present and future use of the system. It cannot rely on a secondary authorization which might be forced to cease operation on a moment’s notice. The Turnpike claimed that primary status would not cause new interference potential for existing licensees but would ensure that frequency coordinators protected the Turnpike’s use as primary. It also stated that it has no reasonable alternative because there are no primary VHF frequencies available on a state-wide basis. It cannot migrate to 700 MHz nor use the PA State Police system due to its unique coverage needs.
The FCC denied the request because it felt that the Turnpike had not justified the waiver. The underlying purpose of the rule is to protect mobile operations from interference from higher powered base stations; allowing the Turnpike to operate base stations on a co-primary basis would not serve that underlying purpose. The Turnpike also has the alternative of continuing to operate on a secondary basis as it has for the past 40 years. In the decision, the Commission noted that the Turnpike had failed to substantiate, document, or explain its assertions that secondary operations created technical challenges and financial burdens. The FCC also cited as speculative the Turnpike’s concern that it might be required to cease operations at a moment’s notice after 40 years of interference-free operations.
The text of the Order is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1280A1.doc
ACD Telecomm, LLC Seeks Certification as a Part 90 Frequency Coordinator
ACD has filed a request asking to be certified as a frequency coordinator for Part 90 public safety spectrum including VHF, UHF, 700 MHz and 800 MHz. In its request, ACD indicated that it met the requirements established in 1986 when the FCC first certified four frequency coordinators for the public safety spectrum. Specifically, ACD stated that it:
- Was formed in 1998 and satisfies the “representativeness” requirement
- Has an effective coordination plan and
- Extensive PLMR technical expertise
- Nationwide coordination capability
- Comments were due October 8; Reply Comments are due October 23.
The text of the Public Notice is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1292A1.docx
Canadian National Railway Agrees to Pay Over $5M in FCC Fines
The Canadian National Railway, a large Montreal-based company that provides trucking, rail, warehousing and distribution services in parts of the US and through Canada has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $5.25 million.
In 1995, Canadian National Railway took ownership of several railroad companies in the United States but failed to file assignments of authorization or transfers of control for those railroads’ FCC licenses. In addition, the company had added, relocated, modified and constructed several hundred wireless facilities without FCC approval. Canadian National Railway will implement a three-year plan to ensure future FCC compliance in accordance with the terms of a consent decree.
The penalty is the largest in FCC history for unauthorized radio operations and transfers of control. The text of the News Release is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-329333A1.docx
A copy of the Consent Decree is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1279A1.docx
R&M Repeater: The key issue is whether or not Nextel should be required to pay for rebanding R&M Repeater’s system in Arizona. R&M had not originally been impacted by the rebanding proceeding, but became impacted when it took assignment of four frequencies from another entity (Vulcan Materials Company).
R&M had programmed the new frequencies into its radios during its routine annual May-August maintenance schedule even though the assignment had not yet been granted. Nextel argued that R&M should have realized that the frequencies it was getting from Vulcan would have to be rebanded and should have programmed the replacement frequencies into the radios instead. Nextel also disputed R&M’s cost estimate (nearly $250K). Nextel’s estimate was just over $60K if the radios were re-programmed during annual routine maintenance period.
The TA had found in favor of R&M. The FCC ruled that R&M only became subject to rebanding when it finalized the assignment from Vulcan. Until that time, Nextel and R&M were “contractual strangers” to one another and R&M was under no obligation to program the replacement frequencies into its radios. Therefore, Nextel must pay the retuning costs. The FCC did find that under the “minimum cost standard,” R&M should reprogram its radios during its 2015 annual maintenance. However, since R&M’s rebanding schedule impacts at least three other licensees, it might have to reprogram its radios outside of the routine maintenance period. Nextel must pay the costs in either case.
The text of the Memorandum Opinion & Order is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1320A1.docx
Pima County Community College: Pima County Community College had most recently been granted an extension of the mediation period to allow it until September 5, 2014 to reach an agreement. The TA requested a third extension (until September 26) to allow the two parties to put into writing an agreement in principal that had been reached. While the extension was granted, the FCC was skeptical that the agreement in principal could be converted to a written agreement given the two entities’ past history and instructed the TA to closely monitor the progress. No further extension will be granted.
The text of the Order is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1333A1.docx
FCC Grants Most of Region 9’s (Florida) Proposed 800 MHz Plan Amendments
The FCC has granted most of Region 9’s proposed amendments to its existing 800 MHz Regional Plan. The Commission did not agree with Region 9’s proposed required loading of 400 mobile units for a single 25 kHz frequency when the applicant proposed to use TDMA technology. Region 9’s rationale was that TDMA provided four talk paths and each talk path should be considered a “channel.” Current Part 90 regulations require non-SMR applicants to have 100 mobile units per channel. Therefore, Region 9 suggested an applicant would need 400 mobile units per 25 kHz frequency if using TDMA. The FCC stated that the rules do not address the number of “paths” within a frequency, only the number of mobiles per 25 kHz channel. Region 9 was advised to file a Petition for Rulemaking if it wanted to add language pertaining to TDMA technology to the loading requirements.
The text of the Public Notice is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1337A1.docx
City of McDonough, GA Granted Waiver to Operate One-Way MAS System on a Paired Microwave Frequency
The FCC has granted a waiver filed by the City of McDonough, GA to operate a one-way MAS system on a frequency designated for two-way paired operations.
McDonough was originally granted the frequency in 2003 when there were no unpaired, one-way MAS frequencies available and uses it to support one-way communications between water meters and vehicular meter readers. Unfortunately, the City allowed its original license to lapse and in the meantime, an unpaired, one-way MAS frequency has become available. In order to continue to operate on its existing frequency the City needed to obtain a waiver. In its waiver request, McDonough explained that it would cost nearly $1M to replace its current units with units that would operate on the unpaired frequency. The FCC concluded that the City had met the waiver standard and that it would be inequitable and unduly burdensome to require McDonough to replace its equipment.
The text of the Memorandum Opinion & Order is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1394A1.docx
International Association of Auto Theft Investigators Request for Partial Waiver of the SVRS Narrowband Deadline Granted
The International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) had filed a request for a partial waiver of the May 27, 2019 deadline for Stolen Vehicle Recovery Systems (SVRS) mobile units operating on 173.075 to operate at 12.5 kHz. IAATI had asked for an indefinite waiver to allow only the mobile units to continue to operate at 20 kHz while being tracked by law enforcement.
IAATI indicated that the only SVRS provider, LoJack Corporation had ceased to produce 20 kHz vehicle locator units (VLUs) but that it was impractical to attempt to locate and replace already deployed wideband VLUs. While wideband VLUs are installed in older model vehicles, these are particularly attractive to thieves because they are easier to steal and are in high demand for parts. The VLUs operate at low power and only when activated by law enforcement.
The FCC was persuaded that continued wideband operation of VLUs posed little potential for interference to federal operations and would not impede spectrum efficiency but would not grant a waiver for an indefinite period of time. VLUs can continue to operate at 20 kHz until December 31, 2024. If wideband operation is needed beyond that date, IAATI can file another waiver request.
The text of the Order is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1296A1.doc
FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau Announces More Details on Rural Broadband Experiments
The FCC has released the application form to be used when applying to participate in the rural broadband experiments – the FCC Form 5610. Various guides explaining how to complete the required forms are available at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/rural-broadband-experiments.
To complete testing the new form on the FCC’s electronic filing system, there will be a brief delay in opening the filing window for rural broadband experiment applications. The FCC will release a Public Notice announcing the new deadline.
The Rural Broadband Experiments Webinar has also been postponed and will not take place until October 9 at 2 pm. The text of the Public Notice is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1396A1.doc
Regional Planning Committee Meetings Announced
Region 3 (Arizona) will hold 700 MHz and 800 MHz Planning meetings on October 23 in Mesa, AZ. The text of the Public Notice is available at: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-1401A1.doc
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