FCC Modifies 700 MHz P25 CAP Rules, Requests Vehicular Repeater Input
Tuesday, August 23, 2016 | Comments

The FCC modified its 700 MHz narrowband channel rules to allow Project 25 (P25) Compliance Assessment Program (CAP) compliance or the equivalent to be completed after equipment certification but prior to the marketing or sale of that equipment. The commission also requested comment on vehicular repeater use at 700 MHz and other items.

The FCC said the new P25 CAP rules will ensure that potential users will have the benefit of CAP testing or the equivalent and compliance with P25 interoperability standards without disadvantaging radio manufacturers.

“We find our decision correctly balances manufacturers’ need for flexibility against the public’s interest in interoperability,” the FCC said in an order on reconsideration and further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM).

The change comes after the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) filed a petition for reconsideration regarding a 2014 report and order that amended the FCC’s Part 2 equipment certification rules to require that manufacturers include a declaration of CAP compliance with any application for certification of equipment capable of operating on the 700 MHz interoperability channels.

TIA supports the CAP program but expressed concern that requiring CAP compliance before equipment certification would be impractical because radios submitted for equipment certification often lack some of the features essential for public-safety interoperability, including features necessary for the radios to receive CAP certification.

Separate from P25 CAP issue, in response to a request for clarification filed by the National Regional Planning Council (NRPC), the FCC clarified that states may delegate administration of the air-ground channels to the 700 MHz regional planning committees (RPCs).

The FCC also corrected and updated its 700 MHz rules based on previous decisions and changes.

The FNPRM will facilitate the use of vehicular repeater systems (VRS) on 700 MHz general use and state license channels. In the report and order, the FCC added the 700 MHz reserve channels to the general use pool to be made available for multiple uses subject to RPC administration and authorized the RPCs to designate some of the former reserve channels for VRS use. The addition of the reserve channels to the general use pool brought them within the scope of Section 90.537 of the commission’s rules, which requires all 700 MHz systems using six or more general use or state license channels to be trunked.

The commonwealth of Virginia requested a waiver of the trunking requirement to allow its VRS system to operate without trunking on state license channels and former reserve channels.

“In light of the growing popularity of VRS systems among public-safety entities as a means to enhance system coverage, we find it appropriate to revisit our trunking rule and ask for comment on additional rule changes that may be necessary to accommodate VRS operation in the 700 MHz band.”

In addition, TIA and the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC), suggested that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) P25 CAP Advisory Council could help define the subset of features that radios must have to meet the P25 CAP requirements in the conventional mode of operation. In a responsive filing, the participating members of the P25 CAP AP submitted a list of 15 recommended feature sets and capabilities to facilitate interoperable communications between radios when operating in the conventional mode of P25 using the Common Air Interface (CAI) on the designated 700 MHz interoperability channels.

Accordingly, the commission is seeking comment on whether to adopt all, some, or none, of the additional feature sets and capabilities recommended.

Finally, the FCC is seeking comment on a recommendation by Motorola Solutions to clarify Sections 90.547 and 90.548 of its rules to the effect that 700 MHz radios must be capable of being programmed to operate on the designated interoperability channels.

Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and reply comments 45 days after publication. The full order and FNPRM is here.

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