EWA filed comments today with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) responding to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that supported spectrum policies that would benefit incumbent 800 MHz licensees by providing a time-limited opportunity for such licensees to enhance their wireless systems prior to enabling new entrants in the 800 MHz Expansion and Guard bands.
Representing a broad alliance of business enterprise users, commercial service providers, radio dealers and technology manufacturers, EWA reminded the FCC that no non-public safety PLMR spectrum has been made available since 1986 when the 900 MHz band was released for Business/Industrial/Land Transportation (B/ILT) and commercial uses. EWA supported all of the positions proposed by the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) in comments also filed today by that industry organization, particularly the point that allowing flexible, priority access to licensees “that have demonstrated an ability and commitment to deploying systems to meet critical communications needs clearly is consistent with the Commission’s obligation to serve the public interest.” In addition, EWA offered the following additional, progressive recommendations:
- Expand incumbent licensee access capabilities – The NPRM limits the priority access period to B/ILT incumbents seeking to access B/ILT channels in the Expansion Band (EB). This opportunity is close to meaningless in congested markets where no channels or only a limited number of channels are available. EWA suggested the adoption of a time-limited period during which all Expansion Band and Guard Band (GB) spectrum would be available to all 800 MHz incumbents.
- Extend access during priority period to T-Band and 900 MHz incumbents – Since 800 MHz is an optimal home for PLMR systems that need exclusive channels, EWA recommended that incumbents in the 470-512 MHz (T-Band) and 900 MHz spectrum bands be allowed to migrate to 800 MHz channels during the priority access period.
- Lift the freeze on inter-category sharing – EWA recommended that inter-category sharing between B/ILT and Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) licensees in the interleaved band be permitted during the priority access period.
- Require digital system deployments – To ensure that this spectrum is used efficiently and promptly, EWA recommended that all entities that secure EB/GB spectrum be required, as a condition of the license, to deploy digital systems that use either 12.5 kHz bandwidth technology or technology with 12.5 kHz spectral efficiency or better.
- Require an accelerated construction verification with site owner affidavits – To deter spectrum warehousing, the FCC should impose an accelerated construction deadline on EB/GB licensees by requiring licensees to file a construction notification with the FCC six months after license grant and include an affidavit from the specific site owner verifying the validity of the construction.
In other matters, EWA supported the expansion of conditional licensing to the 470-512, 800 and 900 MHz PLMR bands and to all eligible applicants notwithstanding unexplained prohibitions proposed by the FCC in the NPRM. And while the FCC proposed to add certain UHF channels that fall between PLMR and BAS spectrum and PLMR and GMRS spectrum to the Part 90 I/B frequency table, it rejected the inclusion of others because of potential interference or other issues. Again, EWA recommended that all the channels identified, including those not approved by the FCC in recent Orders responding to waiver requests, be added to the I/B allocation table, subject to generally-accepted frequency coordination protocols.