FCC Streamlines Part 20 Rules to Benefit Mission-Critical Entities
Tuesday, December 19, 2017 | Comments

In a new order, the FCC updated, harmonized and streamline regulations regarding the classification of commercial and private mobile radio services, primarily by eliminating Sections 20.7 and 20.9 of the commission’s rules.

The sections listed various services or subservices that the FCC had classified as “mobile services” (in Section 20.7) and determined to be “commercial mobile radio services” (CMRS) (in Section 20.9). These rules also established in certain instances a presumption that some services are private mobile radio services (PMRS) and set out a process by which that presumption can be rebutted.

Adopted more than 20 years ago, when the FCC’s rules for particular spectrum bands typically contemplated distinct wireless services in each band, the existing approach of Sections 20.7 and 20.9 is not consistent with the commission’s current approach of flexible use licensing, the order said.

Part 20 frequencies include former VHF and UHF paging frequencies, which the FCC subsequently auctioned. A number of governmental licensees have sought out these frequencies when no Part 90 channels were available and because Part 20 frequencies are available on an exclusive basis, said Alan Tilles, chairman of the Shulman Rogers Telecommunications Department.

“However, in doing so, governmental entities would always have to ask for a waiver to use these CMRS frequencies for internal use only,” Tilles said. “This delayed transactions and made some entities wary of even attempting to enter into such acquisitions. This rule change will help government and municipal entities, as well as business/industrial users.”

Tilles represents the Government Wireless Technology and Communications Association (GWTCA), one of the entities that commented in the proceeding. The FCC requested comment in revising the Part 20 rules last year.

“GWTCA is pleased that the FCC has eliminated this obstacle to greater available to spectrum for municipal licensees,” Tilles said.

The full order is here.

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