Comment Sought on IMSA Narrowbanding Waiver

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications and Public Safety and Homeland Security bureaus and the Office of Engineering and Technology sought comments today on a request submitted by the International Municipal Signal Association seeking a waiver of the FCC’s part 90 narrowbanding rules.

“Pursuant to section 90.203(j)(4)-(5), the Commission no longer accepts applications for certification of Part 90 equipment in the 150-174 MHz and 450-512 MHz bands that cannot operate in a 6.25 kHz mode or with equivalent efficiency,” a public notice observed. “This 6.25 kHz capability requirement originally was scheduled to take effect January 1, 2011. In 2010, however, the Commission temporarily waived the requirement until 2013, in order to avoid any impediment to 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz licensees’ migration to 12.5 kHz technology by January 1, 2013. The Commission noted that a public safety interoperability standard for 6.25 kHz operation was still under development, and stated that if standards still were not in place by January 1, 2013, interested parties could request a further extension. In 2013, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, and Office of Engineering and Technology delayed implementation of the requirement until January 1, 2015, in order to allow additional time for standards bodies to complete the ANSI 102 ‘Project 25 Phase II’ standard for the Public Safety sector. The January 1, 2015, date was selected because that also was the date when the Commission would no longer accept applications for certification of Public Safety equipment in the 700 MHz band that cannot operate in a 6.25 kHz mode or with equivalent efficiency.”

The public notice added, “In its waiver request, IMSA notes that standards for 6.25 kHz technology still are not in place, and that the Commission subsequently eliminated the 6.25 kHz capability requirement for Public Safety equipment in the 700 MHz band. In addition, IMSA argues that the 6.25 kHz capability requirement will significantly raise prices and reduce deployment, especially for volunteer firefighters and ski patrols. IMSA states that since Public Safety users are required to continue using radios with FM analog capabilities, there is no operational need to mandate digital capabilities as well. Further, it contends the 6.25 kHz capability requirement could harm interoperability by allowing incompatible equipment to proliferate. Consequently, IMSA asserts that the implementation of section 90.203(j)(4)-(5) should be delayed until January 1, 2020, at which time the Commission should reassess the decision to impose the 6.25 kHz capability requirement.”

The public notice said that parties commenting on the waiver request “are asked to address the current state of the development of standards for 6.25 kHz technology, and estimates of when standards may be finalized and how long after that it would take to design and manufacture compliant equipment. We also ask that commenters provide specific data and information regarding the current effect of the 6.25 kHz capability requirement on equipment costs, such as actual or estimated dollar figures, including a description of how the data or information was calculated or obtained and any supporting documentation or other evidentiary support. Vague or unsupported assertions regarding costs or benefits generally will receive less weight and be less persuasive than more specific and supported statements. Commenters should also discuss the appropriate duration of any additional waiver.”

Comments are due Oct. 26 and replies Nov. 10 in WT docket 99-87. – Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily