Public Safety Entities Weigh in on 700 MHz Airborne Ops Proposals

May 2, 2017–Public safety entities have weighed in on two proposals for coordinating 700 megahertz airborne operations for narrowband channels along the U.S.-Canada border. The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and International Bureau released a public notice in March seeking comment on the proposals (TR Daily, March 15). “One proposal would allow the two countries to share the eight channels that the U.S. designated for airborne use,” the bureaus explained in the public notice released in PS docket 13-87.  The other would require “certain terrestrial incumbents in the United States, within given distances from the border, … to relocate from Canada’s air-ground channels to avoid mutual interference,” they said.

In its comments, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council recommended that “the Commission and ISED [Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada] give serious consideration to designating up to eight air-ground 12.5 kHz channels selected from the 775-776/805-806 MHz band for day-to-day public safety air-ground use in Canada. This spectrum is already designated for public safety use in Canada. NPSTC believes its selection for day-to-day Canada air-ground operations would enable both countries to enjoy full use of its public safety air-ground spectrum with minimal ongoing border zone coordination. In the U.S., the 775-776/805-806 MHz band is designated as the B block guardband. While the B block guardband was envisioned for use by [band managers], a check of the Commission’s ULS database indicates no B block guardband licenses exist. As addressed in these comments there is minimal use of this spectrum by other licensees as well, for which some additional study may very well resolve any potential impact.”

NPSTC also recommended that “the Commission and ISED address provisions for Canada to use one or more of the U.S. designated air-ground channels only for joint U.S./Canada public safety operations near the border.”

“The Bureaus’ proposal to share the eight channels that the U.S. designated for airborne use is not ideal because that would simply halve the current number of channels that U.S. public safety licensees may use, and thus require those licensees to relocate to the remaining channels. No other public safety spectrum is dedicated to supporting air-ground communications,” said the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International. “Additionally, the alternative proposal to have Canada designate a separate set of 700 MHz channels presently designated for U.S. use (whether for General Use or State License) is problematic because U.S. public safety licensees already face a shortage of available spectrum to carry out their missions. Further, APCO seeks to avoid, to the extent possible, any new need to require relocation of public safety incumbents. Use of existing 700 MHz narrowband allocations would also be very complicated to implement, given the variations in usage along the border and differences in terrain affecting acceptable height and power levels.

“Rather, APCO prefers proposals being put forth by others in initial comments that recommend use of the 700 MHz Guard Band B Block at 775-776/805-806 MHz,” it said. “This represents a creative approach that would accomplish the goals of this proceeding to reliably and seamlessly meet the airborne spectrum needs of both the U.S. and Canada, while minimizing the effects on terrestrial U.S. incumbents. Moreover, use of the 700 MHz Guard Band B Block would make more efficient use of the electromagnetic spectrum.”

The National Regional Planning Council said it “has attempted to introduce the concept of asking Canada to consider the use of frequencies in 775-776 and 805-806 MHz for air-ground operations. Through the use of this spectrum, issues of international coordination would be minimal and the unique operational requirements of Canada could be addressed without impact to the first responders of the United States. In the alternative, we have identified spectrum as found in Section 531(b) that while less desirable than 775-776 and 805-806 MHz, could be considered with varying levels of impact to American public safety. Finally, we introduce two issues, 7AG88D and deployable trunked radio system frequencies, as issues for negotiation with Canada to substantively complete harmonization with the United States operations in the 700 MHz public safety frequency bands.”

The state of Maryland submitted comments similar to those of the NRPC.

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services said it opposes Option 2 proposed in the FCC’s public notice, saying the state has few primary channels. It said Option 1 would impact the state the least, but it said the FCC should review other options that don’t require incumbent relocation, as long as they don’t consider use of “former narrowband ‘reserve’ channels.”- Paul Kirby,

Courtesy TRDaily