December 8, 2016–The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) says is supports a petition for waiver filed by the International Municipal Signal Association (IMSA) of the 6.25 kilohertz or equivalent efficiency equipment capability mandate for the VHF and UHF bands.
“The IMSA filing raises some valid concerns faced by volunteers in the public safety community,” NPSTC said in an ex parte filing yesterday in WT docket 99-87. “Under section 90.203(j)(4)-(5) of the rules, the Commission no longer accepts applications for certification of Part 90 radios in the 150-174 MHz and 450-512 MHz bands that cannot operate in a 6.25 kHz or equivalent efficiency mode. There is no corresponding rule requiring licensees actually to operate with an efficiency of 6.25 kHz per channel or equivalent. The rule applies only to equipment capability.
“However, as noted in the IMSA request for waiver, this 6.25 kHz efficiency requirement essentially prevents manufacturers from offering new radio models that are relatively inexpensive analog FM-only devices,” NPSTC added. “Meeting the 6.25 kHz or equivalent efficiency capability requirement essentially requires that the radios be digital. NPSTC certainly does not oppose the provision of digital radios for those segments of the public safety market that need the benefits such radios offer. In fact, NPSTC applauds those manufacturers that have invested in the development of interoperable digital radios for the public safety market. However, NPSTC believes IMSA raises a valid point that there are some segments of the public safety market for which a relatively low cost VHF or UHF analog FM radio would meet their communications requirements.”
“As noted in the IMSA request for waiver, earlier this year the Commission decided that the required mode of operation on FCC designated VHF and UHF interoperability channels is analog FM. Given that decision, waiving the 6.25 kHz efficiency equipment requirement would have no negative impact on interoperability,” NPSTC said. “A waiver of the rules as IMSA requests, however, could benefit the segment of the public safety market that is very price sensitive and needs only basic communications which analog FM equipment can provide.” – Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org