FCC Requests Comment on 700 MHz Air-Ground Proposals for Canadian Border
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 | Comments

The FCC requested comment on arrangements necessary to allow 700 MHz aircraft-borne radios to communicate on air-ground channels in the 700 MHz public-safety narrowband spectrum (769 – 775/799 – 805 MHz) along the U.S. and Canada border.

In particular, the commission is asking for comment on how to best provide reliable and seamless air-ground communications in the 700 MHz band in the U.S. and Canada while avoiding undue disruption of existing terrestrial facilities in both countries.

In October 2014, the FCC designated eight 12.5-kilohertz bandwidth channels in the narrowband segment of the 700 MHz band for air-ground communications between low-altitude aircraft and associated ground stations in the U.S. The commission noted, however, that cross-border agreements with Canada and Mexico for the 700 MHz band apply only to terrestrial land mobile operations along the border, and that neither agreement contemplates airborne operations.

The FCC identified two alternative proposals to facilitate airborne use of narrowband channels along the U.S.-Canada border. One proposal would allow the two countries to share the eight channels that the U.S. designated for airborne use. This approach would be implemented by creating coordination zones extending from 225 to 315 kilometers from the border for coordination of U.S. or Canadian applications proposing airborne use.

The alternative proposal would be for Canada to designate a separate set of 700 MHz channels for airborne use in Canada on channels the United States has designated as general use or state license. Under this proposal, the United States would have primary status on the eight channels that the FCC reserved for air-ground communications in the 700 MHz band. Because the channels would be U.S. primary, operations on U.S. aircraft could be licensed on the 700 MHz air-ground channels without advance coordination with Canadian regulator Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). Similarly, Canada would have primary status on its own set of eight 700 MHz air-ground channels without the need for advance coordination with the U.S.

To implement the alternative proposal, certain terrestrial incumbents in the United States, within given distances from the border, would have to relocate from Canada’s air-ground channels to avoid mutual interference. The FCC would work with ISED closely to identify channels that would require the fewest relocations of U.S. incumbent licensees. The required clearing distances would be a function of the maximum altitude allowed for radio-equipped aircraft using the air-ground channels.

Comments are due May 1, and reply comments are due May 22. The full public notice is here.

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