Motorola Files TETRA Petition, but Licensing Can Move Forward
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 | Comments

Photo courtesy Cassidian

By Sandra Wendelken, Editor

Although a request for clarification or reconsideration of the FCC’s TETRA order is still pending with the FCC, licensing and operations of the technology can move forward.

In November, Motorola Solutions sought clarification on the specific frequencies that are affected by the FCC’s September order that allowed TETRA equipment certification and use in the United States for the first time. The FCC’s order allowed TETRA technology in two bands, UHF 450 – 470 MHz and the business/industrial (B/I) land transportation 800 MHz band (809 – 824/854 – 869 MHz) that aren’t in the National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee (NPSPAC) portion of the 800 MHz spectrum.

Motorola asked the FCC to clarify whether it intended to include the 800 MHz non-NPSPAC public-safety pool channels under the scope of the new rules and said there is no discussion in the order to indicate that the FCC distinguished between NPSPAC and non-NPSPAC 800 MHz channels in making its decision.

Secondly, Motorola asked for further clarification on the scope of the order specific to the adjacent channel power limits of Section 90.221 instead of the emissions masks contained in Section 90.201. “Applying out-of-band emissions limits for only one type of technology, which is not even defined in the rules, would run afoul of the commission’s policy to adopt technology neutral rules,” said the Motorola filing.

The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International filed comments in support of the Motorola Solutions petition Jan. 2. “Public-safety frequency coordinators have recently received applications indicating proposed TETRA use on such channels,” said the APCO letter. “Therefore, immediate and formal clarification is required to determine if such applications are compliant with the commission’s rules.”

“The TETRA rules became effective Nov. 9, 2012, and licensees can move forward with licensing and operating systems while the Motorola petition is pending,” said Gregory Kunkle, partner with Keller & Heckman. “We have clients that are already filing applications for TETRA.

“The rules could change depending on the outcome of the Motorola petition. Motorola claims that the language of the new rules appears to authorize the use of TETRA on certain public-safety channels, which is inconsistent with the text of the order. Licensees applying for those channels do so at their own risk.”

Also on Jan. 2, the TETRA + Critical Communications Association (TCCA) filed an opposition to Motorola’s petition for reconsideration, saying the petition raises no new issues and unnecessarily delays the implementation of rules allowing access to TETRA in the United States and should be dismissed.

“Motorola and APCO have raised a query regarding a minor inconsistency in the wording …,” said Phil Kidner, TCCA CEO. “It is interesting to note that APCO has stated that the clarification is needed because their frequency coordinators have already received requests for frequencies to be made available for TETRA. This seems to support the view that the demand is there.”

Replies to an opposition must be filed within 10 days of the opposition, and Motorola replied to the TCCA opposition Jan. 14. “The TCCA opposition does not resolve the conflicts in the order that were identified by Motorola,” said the Motorola reply. “Therefore, the commission needs to clarify the order as requested.”

Telecom regulator Industry Canada in 2011 revised Canada’s rules to enable equipment conforming to the TETRA voice and data communications standard to be type accepted. The revision resulted in TETRA systems being available for use in Canada for the first time. Several TETRA systems have been contracted in Canada following the Industry Canada ruling.

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