800 MHz EB/GB Spectrum in Limbo Pending Frequency Coordinator Agreement
Tuesday, April 09, 2019 | Comments

The 800 MHz expansion band/guard band (EB/GB) spectrum made available under new FCC rules adopted in October is in limbo as FCC-certified frequency advisory committees (FAC) failed to achieve agreement on 800 MHz application processing protocols after a year of effort.

FCC officials reminded the FACs last week during a meeting that they must adopt processes that entirely eliminate the prospect of multiple FACs submitting applications to the FCC that are mutually exclusive, according to a statement from the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC). Mutually exclusive applications are two applications requesting the same licenses and submitted to the FCC at about the same time. The FCC would then bounce the applications back to the coordinators.

LMCC is a council that includes the 11 public-safety and business/industrial FACs and other LMR interest groups. Four of the FACs focus on public-safety applications, and the other seven coordinators target business/industry (B/I) licensees.

The FACs have conducted a yearlong effort to identify a viable approach that would not shift the mutual exclusivity problem to the coordination stage and cause extensive delays in making the 800 MHz EB/GB spectrum available to users.

An earlier FAC proposal to retain the services of a third party that would date/time stamp applications failed because of cost concerns from some FACs. A more recent proposal to use a round-robin application approach was rejected by FCC leadership based on what it viewed as equitability considerations.

Mark Crosby, secretary of the LMCC and president of one FAC, the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA), said licenses in the 800 MHz expansion band will mostly be B/I entities rather than public-safety entities. He said the current process won’t work for the pending 800 MHz GB spectrum because of the high volume of licenses.

“If you attempt to do 125 applications at the same time, you’re going to have a mess,” Crosby said.

In a statement, EWA said the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), led by former FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, is an FAC that had not supported the amended EB/GB memorandum of agreement (MOA). During the FCC meeting, WIA affirmed its position that the current FAC process would work fine and endorsed FCC objections to the round robin approach.

“EWA’s leadership is now obligated to step back and revisit its overall advocacy position with respect to the EB/GB landscape,” an EWA statement said. “After attempting for a year to develop a workable coordination process, we see little likelihood that further effort would produce a solution acceptable to all FACs given WIA’s position that no solution is needed.”

“WIA has worked transparently and collaboratively with other FACs and the FCC throughout this process to find consensus on the processing of 800 MHz expansion/guard band applications," said WIA spokesperson Amy-Gabrielle Bartolac. "At no point did WIA nor its leadership advocate any recommendation independently to the FCC regarding the memorandum of agreement we have with other FACs. The FCC made its decision on its own. Implications to the contrary are presumptuous, mischaracterize the facts and are plainly incorrect. As a market leader in frequency coordination, WIA will continue to work closely with other FACs and the FCC on establishing a fair process. WIA would support the round robin approach if the FCC adopts it and will support the FCC’s determination on how to proceed. WIA will strive to achieve a successful process and look forward to this important work.”

Failure to reach agreement on an alternative approach may result in the FCC adopting processes that the FACs will be obligated to implement.

“That might be a good idea; I’ve worked on this for a year,” Crosby said.

The LMCC’s annual meeting is April 10, and the 800 MHz spectrum coordination is one discussion item, along with Part 22 frequencies, 4.9 and 6 GHz, and the T-band.

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On 4/12/19, David Reeves said:
Apparently no one on the eighth floor has ever played fantasy football. The round robin draft process is the fairest way to get this done. Ask the NFL. Everybody gets a turn until all players/channels are assigned or there are no more applications.

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