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PRIVATE WIRELESS USERS KEEP PRESSING FOR SPECTRUM

WASHINGTON-The users of private wireless communications recently stressed their support for more spectrum. The reply comments were in response to a petition filed by the Land Mobile Communications Council on April 22 asking the Federal Communications Commission to allow them access to various blocks of spectrum.

The specific spectrum requests LMCC made in its petition are not set in stone but rather were a starting point for discussion, said John M. Kneuer, executive director for government relations for the Industrial Telecommunications Association. ITA often speaks for LMCC. “I am worried we will debate this [on the petition] over the [specific spectrum] bands instead of core issues,” Kneuer said. Other issues include the needs of private wireless users and whether private wireless users should be assessed lease fees for any additional spectrum assigned to them.

In the current reply comment cycle, ITA urged the FCC to issue a formal statement of its views on private wireless spectrum needs by issuing a notice of inquiry or a notice of proposed rule making. It is hoped more debate and discussion will lead to a compromise with the amateur radio community, aeronautical radio users and the federal government.

Each of these groups expressed some opposition in the initial comment cycle completed early last month. “ITA believes that the opposition expressed by the amateur radio enthusiasts is indicative of the spectrum shortage that prompted the request for spectrum. In the commercial services there is a tremendous surplus of spectrum, while the private services, as well as amateurs, continue to struggle to maintain access to existing allocations,” said ITA in a statement.

The LMCC petition asks for a total of 125 megahertz of spectrum by 2010 beginning with an immediate allocation of 15 megahertz. This spectrum would serve the needs of private wireless users that cannot be met by commercial providers. The spectrum shortage for private wireless occurred after large blocks of spectrum were auctioned for commercial purposes.

LMCC disputes the notion that all private wireless needs can be met by commercial providers. “There has been a prevailing school of thought that private mobile radio services needs can be fully satisfied by [commercial mobile radio service] providers. This belief is misguided … nearly all large [private mobile radio services] licensees maintain contracts with CMRS providers for some of their communications needs … PMRS users own and operate complex communications systems to provide effective internal communications,” said the LMCC in its petition.

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