WASHINGTON-Now that some of the dust has settled following the Federal Communications Commission’s Dec. 23 adoption of a memorandum opinion and order regarding private-radio refarming, the Industrial Telecommunications Association has sent Wireless Telecommunications Bureau chief Michele Farquhar a technical blueprint proposal for frequency re-use.
“The blueprint is intended to be a technical translation or adaptation of the pre-refarming frequency limitations to the post-refarming environment. In that sense, the blueprint attempts to be strictly a technical, nonjudgmental document,” wrote Mark Crosby, ITA president and chief executive officer. “There is, however, one exception to this approach. To present a plan that is representative of the future environment, it was necessary to make certain assumptions regarding the consolidation of radio services.”
ITA’s proposed blueprint lists current Part 90 frequencies allocated to private radio use, expanded to include the 12.5 kilohertz, 7.5 kilohertz and 6.25 kilohertz channels created by refarming along with “all relevant post-refarming frequency limitations.” The association purged what it considered to be “unnecessary or redundant” limitations that would have existed under consolidation. “In the case of frequencies having narrowly circumscribed uses, such as the oil-spill containment or radio control/telemetry operations, we have generally repeated the same limitation in the blueprint,” Crosby explained.
According to ITA and several other associations, including the Personal Communications Industry Association and the Telephone Maintenance Frequency Advisory Committee, the move to a two-pool consolidation-one for private radio and one for public safety-will best serve the industry. The group defined private wireless services as being “all land mobile telecommunications systems operated by or through industrial, business, educational, philanthropic or ecclesiastical organizations engaged in serving the public welfare or producing goods and services for public consumption.” Public safety services are “operated by or through entities at the state or local level, or by privately funded entities, that are engaged in protecting the public’s right to preservation of life, property and resources and in serving the public welfare.”
Public safety and private wireless frequencies in the 150 MHz-174 MHz and 450 MHz-470 MHz bands have been handled in the blueprint in an “orderly and logical” manner. However, ITA admitted that “it is impossible to establish a clear demarcation between the frequencies used for public-safety systems and the frequencies used for other private wireless operations” in the 470 MHz-512 MHz band, within which are four different service pools. Thus, ITA seeks to consolidate all of the frequencies into a single pool encompassing all users.
Also tied into public safety, according to the blueprint, are certain parts of railroad operations. ITA proposed a two-pronged approach for accommodation including reserving all pre-refarming frequencies and all narrowband channels in the top 50 markets for five years; frequency coordinators could define the areas as those in a 50-mile radius of the city and would design computer software to restrict licensing within these areas to railroads using railroad frequencies. Non-railroad entities that are using the frequencies as of Jan. 1, 1997, would be grandfathered in. Outside of the top 50 areas, ITA recommended that all existing railroad transmitter sites licensed as of the effective consolidation date be treated as protected service areas, with appropriate contours protected by coordinators.
Coordinators also would make exceptions for the 40 frequency pairs in the 460 MHz-465 MHz range used by commercial air transportation carriers within 50 miles of referenced coordinates in 98 metropolitan areas served by one or more commercial airports. The proposal would preserve the current prohibition on non-airline use of these frequency pairs within 50 miles of specified locations.
Emergency response requirements needed by utilities and other companies have been addressed by ITA by its proposal to redesignate eight frequency pairs currently assigned to maritime/industrial interests but not being used.