Virginia Gets Waiver for 700 MHz Digital Vehicular Repeaters
Tuesday, March 08, 2016 | Comments

The FCC granted a waiver request by the commonwealth of Virginia Department of State Police of Section 90.537(a) of the commission’s rules for narrowband trunking requirements relative to its Statewide Agencies Radio System (STARS). The waiver allows the agency to use nontrunked state channels and former reserve channels — now general use channels — in its existing 700 MHz digital vehicular repeater units (DVRS).

Section 90.537(a) specifies that all systems using six or more narrowband general use or state channels must operate in the trunked mode.

STARS uses VHF digital trunked narrowband mobile radio technology for its system infrastructure and relies on 700 MHz DVRS units in more than 3,600 vehicles to enable 700 MHz handheld portable units to communicate, through the DVRS, with the system infrastructure.

When STARS was implemented, and to date, there are no trunked vehicular repeaters available, and there is no Project 25 (P25) — the technology used on the STARS system — specification for a trunked vehicular repeater. Additionally, Virginia said, trunking generally assumes a fixed infrastructure whereas the state’s DVRS units are mobile, not fixed.

Virginia said that it only recently became aware that Section 90.537, if strictly construed, could apply to DVRS units, and thus requested the instant waiver of Section 90.537.

“In light of these unusual circumstances, denial of Virginia’s waiver request would be unduly burdensome and contrary to the public interest,” the order said. “Denial would potentially interfere with Virginia’s operational needs, create unnecessary expense and complicate Virginia’s frequency planning.”

Regional planning committee (RPC) 20 approved Virginia’s use of additional channels for the STARS system conditioned on grant of the instant waiver request. The waiver will expire on the earlier of one year from the release date of the FCC’s order or on the effective date of the commission taking further action to address 700 MHz narrowband licensing and operational requirements applicable to vehicular repeater systems.

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