From: IWCE’s URGENT Communications
FCC eliminates 700 MHz narrowbanding mandate, reserves channels for T-Band, air-to-ground comms
Oct 27, 2014 Donny Jackson | Urgent Communications
The FCC issued a report and order on Friday eliminating requirements associated with the planned deadline to transition 700 MHz public-safety narrowband systems from 12.5 kHz to 6.25 kHz channels by Dec. 31, 2016, as well as designating some channels in the band for voice communications with helicopters and other aircraft.
Removing the 700 MHz narrowbanding requirement “will enable licensees to extend the life of existingsystems and will provide public safety with greater flexibility in determining the optimal future use of the band,” according to the text of the FCC’s report and order.
“We conclude that the December 31, 2016 narrowbanding implementation deadline is no longer viable,” the FCC report and order states. “The record indicates that requiring narrowbanding by December 2016 would force many licensees to modify or replace existing systems well before the end of their useful life. In addition, we share the concerns expressed by many commenting parties about the maturity of 6.25 kilohertz-capable equipment, including the lack of developed open standards governing major system components.”
Public-safety officials have been asking for relief from the 700 MHz narrowbanding deadline for several years, noting that many 700 MHz public-safety LMR systems would be less than eight years old when the Dec. 31, 2016, date arrived, because the spectrum was not available nationwide until 2009. Although the FCC had given indications that it would not move forward with the deadline—some waivers were granted that extended the time until 2024—the narrowbanding mandate remained in place until Friday.
In addition, many have noted that there is a possibility that mission-critical voice could be offered over broadband networks like the one being developed by FirstNet, so requiring public-safety entities operating narrowband systems at 700 MHz to revamp them by the previously planned Dec. 31, 2016, date could limit their flexibility in the future.
With the FCC’s decision to eliminate the 700 MHz narrowbanding rules, public-safety agencies can make buildout plans based on capacity needs, instead of having to deploy a 6.25 kHz-channel technology like P25 Phase II simply to comply with regulations, according to Steve Devine, assistant director for the Missouri Statewide WirelessInteroperability Network (MOSWIN).
“It certainly makes it easier [to budget],” Devine said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “There were several places with wide-area systems—countywide, regional and even statewide—that were planning to be Phase II [P25] because of the rule. I would like to think those folks would go back and realize that, now that the rule has changed, they may revisit some places where they don’t need that spectral efficiency.
“That’s saving some real money. In a wide-area system, that can be big dollars. It can be millions of dollars in a statewide system between Phase II and not.”
But the absence of a 700 MHz narrowbanding mandate does not mean that the market for 6.25 kHz equipment in the band will vanish, because it may be the best technology choice—particularly in urban locations with a scarcity of available spectrum, Devine said.
“Those that feel they need to arrive at that efficiency can, but it’s not forced upon them now,” he said. “A lot of this will be subject to the RPCs [regional planning committees]. When there’s channel contention, whoever uses the channels most efficiently probably should get priority—I think that’s a basic tenet in all of the RPC review processes.”
In fact, the FCC order explicitly encourages the use of 6.25 kHz-channel technology for 700 MHz systems in geographic areas where public-safety entities currently utilize systems in the 470-512 MHz known as the T-Band. In 2012, Congress mandated that public-safety agencies with T-Band systems vacate the T-Band spectrum by 2021, and affected entities have been scrambling to find spectrum that will provide a migration path out of the T-Band.
on Oct 28, 2014
All this after Adams County Colorado and Weld County Colorado made their constituent agencies migrate to 6.25 khz radios. Really? Sounds to me like a certain large vendor made bank on the short-sightedness of government officials! Millions of dollars in equipment replaced unnecessarily at taxpayer expense while roads and bridges are literally falling apart around them. Wow. just wow!
From: The New York Times
F.C.C. Delays Auction of TV Airwaves for Mobile
By EDWARD WYATT OCT. 24, 2014
The Federal Communications Commission said on Friday that it would postpone until early 2016 a planned auction of airwaves now used by broadcast television stations for use by mobile phone companies.
The commission attributed the delay in part to a pending lawsuit filed by the National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group for the television industry, and to the need for more time to recruit television stations to participate.
The auction, previously set to begin in mid-2015, is likely to be the largest and most complicated sale of airwaves that the commission has undertaken. It involves a multistep process in which some broadcasters agree to give up their airwaves or move their signals to new spots on the electromagnetic spectrum in exchange for a portion of the proceeds of their sale.
Broadcast stations that do not participate in the auction could have their spot on the broadcast spectrum moved anyway, to help create contiguous blocks of airwaves for sale to mobile phone companies.
A cellular tower in Oakland, Calif. Federal regulators said more time was needed to deal with a lawsuit and to recruit bidders.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Most broadcast stations affiliated with the four major networks are not expected to participate in the auction, and the trade association said in its lawsuit challenging the sale that the initial rules laid out by the commission would cause some stations to lose some of their coverage area and viewers.
Last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where the case was filed, set out a schedule that calls for final briefs in late January. That means a decision in the case would not be expected until mid-2015, about the time Tom Wheeler, theF.C.C. chairman, had set for the auction to start.
Proceeds from the auction are expected to contribute heavily to the cost of a planned $7 billion nationwide public safety communications network.
In a post on the F.C.C. blog, Gary Epstein, the chairman of the commission’s Incentive Auction Task Force, said the agency was confident that it would prevail in court. But, he added, “given the reality of that schedule, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction, and the need for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, we now anticipate accepting applications for the auction in the fall of 2015 and starting the auction in early 2016.”
Dennis Wharton, executive vice president for communications of the broadcasters’ association, said in a statement: “We reject suggestions that our narrowly focused lawsuit is cause for delay.”
“As N.A.B. has said repeatedly, it is more important to get the auction done right than right now,” Mr. Wharton added. “Given its complexity, there is good reason Congress gave the F.C.C. 10 years to complete the proceeding.”
Mr. Epstein wrote that the commission would vote by the end of the year to release for public comment a proposal of the auction’s methodologies. The agency also will vote “in the coming weeks” to release for comment a proposal to set aside one vacant television channel in each market for use by unlicensed devices.
In a separate move, the F.C.C. on Friday said it would fine two companies a combined $10 million for leaving personal data unprotected.
The companies, Terracom and YourTel America, collected the data from consumers to determine their eligibility for a program that offers subsidized cellphone service to low-income Americans. The F.C.C. said the companies stored the Social Security numbers, names, addresses, driver’s license data and other information of customers on unprotected Internet servers “that anyone in the world could access.”
Lax security practices affected up to 300,000 customers of the low-income phone program, known as Lifeline, the commission said, even though the companies claimed to have “technology and security features” to safeguard the privacy of consumers.
The action is the first data security case for the commission and the largest privacy action in its history.
In a statement, Terracom said it had “worked with our vendors to increase data security technology and procedures and completed multiple security audits to prevent further breaches from taking place.”
A version of this article appears in print on October 25, 2014, on page B2 of the New York edition with the headline: F.C.C. Delays Auction of TV Airwaves for Mobile. Order Reprints |Today's Paper| Subscribe