YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesNEW DTV RULES PROMISE FAST PUBLIC-SAFETY ALLOCATION PROCEEDING

NEW DTV RULES PROMISE FAST PUBLIC-SAFETY ALLOCATION PROCEEDING

WASHINGTON-The Federal Communications Commission’s adoption of long-awaited rules for digital television service also buoyed up hope that additional spectrum for public safety and other wireless services via reallocation of channels 60-69 may become a reality sooner rather than later.

According to a new table of allotments for DTV, some 60 megahertz of spectrum will be recovered “early,” although no timeframe has been developed yet, and another 78 megahertz will be recovered at the end of the transition period from analog TV transmission to digital, anticipated for 2006. This is a change from the original plan of recovering only 72 megahertz in total. A proceeding regarding how recovered spectrum will be used will be introduced “in the near future,” and the commission will consider allotting 24 megahertz to public safety. The remaining 36 megahertz could go to auction for any purpose-such as personal communications services and broadcasting-as the commission dictates.

“In terms of public interest, the benefits of our changes in direction can be measured in many ways,” commented FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. “The return of a lot more spectrum a lot faster is a benefit worth billions of dollars but far more important, the early return will generate new services and economic growth. The early return also can be measured in lives saved, as 24 megahertz can now-and should be-reallocated to the critical needs identified in the report of the Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee.”

Commissioner Susan Ness added, “I am concerned that public-safety entities … not be hampered by having insufficient spectrum. It is inexcusable that today these lifesaving agencies cannot talk to each other without multiple radios operating across scattered spectrum bands. We have set in motion a process that will free up enough contiguous, versatile spectrum to facilitate those vital communications.”

The commission also voted at last Thursday’s open meeting to eliminate limitations on directional-gain spread-spectrum transmitters operating in the 2,450 MHz and the 5,800 MHz bands. The FCC also reduced the minimum number of channels needed for frequency hopping from 50 to 25 in the 915 MHz band, “provided there is a corresponding reduction in output power.”

What the FCC hopes will result from these changes are such new public-interest uses of spread-spectrum technology that could include intelligent highway transportation systems; high-speed Internet connections for schools, libraries, hospitals and businesses; utilities monitoring; and communications links for wireless and wireline services. The new frequency-hopping rules also are meant to help cut interference problems.

Also addressed in the spread-spectrum docket was an amendment of spectral power density that corrects an FCC error made in 1990, provision of an alternate method for measuring the processing gain of direct-sequence spread spectrum, and a clarification on restrictions concerning the marketing and use of external RF power amplifiers and the use of antennas sold in the after market to increase transmission ranges.

On a more consumer-oriented note, the FCC adopted a notice of proposed rule making that seeks comment on the possibility of electronic filing of comments on FCC regulations via the Web or e-mail as an alternative to the current cumbersome practice of submitting multiple copies on paper; in any event, comments would continue to be accepted on paper.

The FCC proposes to set up a Web site that would route formal comments directly into a database; informal comments would appear elsewhere on the page. The public also could search the page for information instead of having to purchase comments on paper from the commission’s transcription service or having to use one of the FCC’s public reference rooms. The possibility of using a CD-ROM format or a dial-up electronic bulletin board for submission of comments also has been proposed. No comment dates have been released.such new public-interest uses of spread-spectrum technology that could include intelligent highway transportation systems; high-speed Internet connections for schools, libraries, hospitals and businesses; utilities monitoring; and communications links for wireless and wireline services. The new frequency-hopping rules also are meant to help cut interference problems.

Also addressed in the spread-spectrum docket was an amendment of spectral power density that corrects an FCC error made in 1990, provision of an alternate method for measuring the processing gain of direct-sequence spread spectrum, and a clarification on restrictions concerning the marketing and use of external RF power amplifiers and the use of antennas sold in the after market to increase transmission ranges.

On a more consumer-oriented note, the FCC adopted a notice of proposed rule making that seeks comment on the possibility of electronic filing of comments on FCC regulations via the Web or e-mail as an alternative to the current cumbersome practice of submitting multiple copies on paper; in any event, comments would continue to be accepted on paper.

The FCC proposes to set up a Web site that would route formal comments directly into a database; informal comments would appear elsewhere on the page. The public also could search the page for information instead of having to purchase comments on paper from the commission’s transcription service or having to use one of the FCC’s public reference rooms. The possibility of using a CD-ROM format or a dial-up electronic bulletin board for submission of comments also has been proposed. No comment dates have been released.

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