NPSTC Launches Interference Protection Working Group

The governing board of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council today approved a new Interference Protection Working Group within its Spectrum Management Committee.  The new working group won’t work on individual instances of interference involving specific licensees, which is the purview of frequency coordinator, Stu Overby, the vice chair of the NPSTC’s Spectrum Management Committee told TRDaily after the board’s vote.  Instead, the working group will focus on the “practical and real” issues that raise interference concerns, such as RF interference from energy efficient lighting, he said.  The working group will look at ways that interference can be prevented, he added.

The NPSTC board also voted to decommission its Narrow Banding Working Group, since its work is complete.  The FCC deadline on narrowbanding was Jan. 1, 2013 , and “the number of waivers was relatively small,” Mr. Overby said.

Mr. Overby said that the NPSTC will be doing more work on issues related to the FCC’s proposing to introduce new full-power interstitial 12.5 kilohertz “offset” channels in the 809-817/854-862 megahertz band, which would create additional voice-grade channels for use by public safety, business/industrial, and other licensees.

In a report delivered during the NPSTC meeting, Public Safety Advisory Committee Chairman Harlin McEwen said that the PSAC recently kicked off three initiatives to respond to requests from the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) for advice regarding an initial framework for implementing access prioritization, user preemption, and prioritized application use in the national public safety broadband network (NPSBN); for advice regarding an initial methodology and framework for prioritizing and implementing NPSTC’s public safety grade recommendations in the NPSBN; and for advice on functional objectives for and ergonomic considerations of Band 14 broadband user equipment that will meet the operational needs of first responders.

The next meeting of the PSAC will be June 2 in San Diego, Mr. McEwen said.

In another presentation, Roberto Mussenden, an attorney–adviser in the Policy and Licensing Division of the FCC’s Public Safety Homeland Security Bureau, said that the agency expects “many more” public safety answering points to implement text-to-911 this year. Mr. Mussenden urged the public safety community to “study” the cybersecurity report approved by the FCC’s Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) this week (TRDaily, March 18) so that they can “discuss it with other cybersecurity folks … using common language.”

Asked whether the public safety community should file ex parte communications with the FCC on the effect that a proposed reduction in field staff will have on interference enforcement, Mr. Mussenden said it would “probably be useful to reach out.”

Mr. McEwen suggested that the proposed reductions are “primarily” a response to budget pressures.  He said that more enforcement, not less, is needed, especially with “increasing evidence” of interference from LED devices with public safety communications.  He added, “From my perspective we all need to think how we weigh in with Congress on the budget.” —Lynn Stanton, lynn.stanton@wolterskluwer.com