FCC Denies Reply Comments Extension on 900 MHz NoI
Friday, October 27, 2017 | Comments

The FCC denied an extension request for reply comments in the 900 MHz notice of inquiry (NoI).

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA), pdvWireless, Southern Company Services, Utilities Technology Council (UTC) and Sensus USA requested the extension to “provide a further opportunity for continued constructive discussions among parties that would be most directly affected by a realignment of the 896 –901/935 – 940 MHz band . . . [and] give the petitioners an opportunity to resolve and/or narrow contested issues on the record in the proceeding, thereby helping to accelerate its ultimate disposition.”

The FCC already extended the comment and reply comment dates by two weeks — to Oct. 2 and Nov. 1, respectively — to accommodate parties assisting in the recovery efforts and others that encountered disruption because of the unusual circumstances arising from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Florida Power & Light Co. and the Edison Electric Institute filed the motion for the original extension.

On Oct. 24, the petitioners requested that the reply comment period be extended an additional six weeks to Dec. 13.

In its comments filed earlier this month, UTC and most utilities that filed comments opposed expanding commercial use of existing business and industrial/land transportation (BI/LT) channels in the 900 MHz band. UTC said it is concerned that doing so will exacerbate the shortage of available channels for private internal communications and will encourage speculation by commercial entities.

“The commission should promote utility access to broadband to meet utilities’ increasing communications needs but ensure that any realignment of the 900 MHz band protects incumbent utility narrowband communications systems and enables them to access additional channels to increase capacity and coverage,” UTC said. “In that regard, the commission should reserve the 900 MHz band for utilities going forward. Finally, the commission should retain existing site-by-site licensing in the 900 MHz band and should not adopt geographic area licensing and auctions.”

Southern Company Services and Sensus operate advanced meter infrastructure (AMI) systems that use NPCS spectrum immediately adjacent to the 900 MHz band and are concerned about the potential for interference, according to their comments.

“While we encourage interested parties to engage in constructive discussions regarding the issues raised in this proceeding, we note that the parties may inform the commission of any agreement or consensus reached after the reply comment deadline in ex parte filings, as the docket in this proceeding does not close when the comment cycle has ended,” the order said. “Moreover, we note that the reply comment period in this proceeding already was extended once. We therefore deny the motion.”

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