January 1, 2011 - All new applications for frequency assignments must have a maximum bandwidth of 12.5 Kilohertz.
January 1, 2011 - All modifications to existing licenses that expand the service contour of existing licenses must have a bandwidth of 12.5 Kilohertz or less.
All manufacturing of 25 Kilohertz equipment is to cease on January 1, 2011.
January 1, 2013 - All current licensees must be fully operational on 12.5 Kilohertz equipment.
As manufacturers are aware, the Federal Communications Commission has had underway for several years an effort to achieve greater spectrum efficiency in the private land mobile bands. This has been known as “re-farming.”
The chief method utilized by the FCC to accomplish this result is narrowing the bandwidth used by private, internal use radio systems from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz and, ultimately, 6.25 kHz.
Initially, the FCC did not mandate that licensees convert their systems to narrow-banded equipment.
Instead, the FCC had opted to rely on its type acceptance process, essentially requiring radio equipment manufacturers to meet increasingly stringent requirements in order to secure type acceptance for their equipment.
However, in light of the slow pace of license migration to narrowband equipment, the FCC subsequently changed course, and adopted mandatory conversion deadlines for licensees. Among other things, the Commission has required all 25 kHz non-public safety systems in the 150-174 and 421-512 MHz bands -- such as manufacturers’ systems -- to convert to 12.5 kHz by the year 2013. In addition, the agency stated that it would no longer accept applications for new wideband (25 kHz) systems, or applications to modify existing wideband systems which would expand a system’s interfering contour, after January 13, 2004.
Manufacturers have been made aware of these requirements by virtue of earlier Member notices. However, Members should also be aware that very recently the FCC stayed (i.e. postponed) the effective date of the prohibition on accepting new/modified wideband applications.
The Commission took this step out of concern that system planning would be thoroughly disrupted where, for example, licensees were in the midst of planning expansion of existing wideband systems, or planning new systems for which interoperability with existing wideband systems would be required.
The stay will remain in effect pending the Commission’s resolution of numerous petitions for reconsideration of the February Report and Order.
The message here is thus two-fold. First, manufacturers considering the possibility of applying for new 25 kHz systems; or modifying existing ones, have been granted a reprieve: Licensees will have additional time to apply for such systems.
Second, the stay Order is a reminder that, while the immediate pressure is off, there can be no assurance that the Commission will not reimpose a deadline when it acts on the petitions for reconsideration. All we can be certain of is that any manufacturer which wishes to license a new 25 kHZ system, or modify an existing one in a manner which expands the interfering contour, should consider doing so sooner rather than later. In so doing, the licensee will be able to comply with any deadline the FCC sees fit to impose and increase the chances that the application will not be precluded by one filed earlier in the frequency coordination process.
Questions regarding this matter should be directed to Ken Keane, MRFAC counsel at 202-776-5243 or our office, at 1-800-262-9206.