WASHINGTON-Industry opinion regarding the recent Federal Communications Commission adoption of a memorandum report and order on refarming generally is positive, with carriers and manufacturers alike ready to move forward after being in such a long holding pattern. The order was based on petitions for reconsideration submitted last year following the commission’s June 15, 1996, adoption of the refarming report and order and its accompanying further notice of proposed rulemaking.

“I think the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau did a great job on this,” said Mark Crosby, president of the Industrial Telecommunications Association. “They needed to batten down the hatches on technical protocols, and we’re looking forward to the increased responsibilities that will be given to frequency coordinators. It’s a huge step forward for us.

Echoing that sentiment was Alan Tilles, an attorney with Meyer, Faller, Weisman and Rosenberg, which represents the Personal Communications Industry Association. “I haven’t heard of any problems with this. The document is very helpful in that it again reaffirms the bandwidth channels.” The order also clarified that some offset channels would remain allocated to the Business Radio Service. Tilles did say that the order would not be “useful” until the commission issues its final rulings on exclusivity and coordinator consolidation.

The 48-page text laid out the final ground rules for rechannelization in the 150 MHz-174 MHz VHF band and in the 421 MHz-430 MHz, 450 MHz-470 MHz and 470 MHz-512 MHz UHF bands. In short, the refarming order accomplishes the following:

It maintains the previously adopted channel plan (7.5 kHz spacing for the VHF channels and 6.25 kHz spacing for the UHF channels) while allowing frequency coordinators to permit other plans, such as 5 kHz spacing, if they do not interfere with other networks.

It extends the equipment type-acceptance transition date from Aug. 1, 1996, to the effective date of the order (sometime in early February) along with retaining Jan. 1, 2005, as the second transition date. One voice channel for every 12.5 kHz of bandwidth will be required until the second transition date, when one voice channel per 6.25 kHz of bandwidth will be required.

It allows manufacturers the flexibility of supporting existing equipment and of providing alternatives when needed and when appropriate. Manufacturers in those cases would have to submit a technical explanation to the commission as to why the equipment is spectrally efficient even though it is outside of the rules.

It clarifies such technical rules as new power/antenna height limits, emission masks and frequency-stability requirements. If any deviations from the norm are required, applicants will not have to submit waiver requests to the commission but rather will work with frequency coordinators who will supply the commission with an attachment at the time of applications.

Applicants also will be allowed to exceed antenna height if power is reduced correspondingly. In addition, new power/height limitations will not apply to networks that are being modified to convert to narrower channels.

Medical telemetry equipment now will be able to operate near airports on a secondary, non-interference basis if equipment outputs do not exceed 20 milliwatts; they also will be allowed to operate on a secondary, non-interference basis on 466.0125 MHz that has been reserved for central station commercial protection systems.

The order added 467.9375 MHz to the Business Radio Service as long as it remains restricted to low-power usage to protect adjacent 12.5 kHz channels; it also removed the 453 MHz narrowband channels from the Special Emergency Radio Service frequency table.

The order also clarified that paging systems operating on paging-only frequencies in the Business Radio Service are not subject to narrowband requirements and that they can operate on to 350 watts of power output with no limit on effective radiated power.


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