FCC Denies Petition for Waiver of 900 MHz Freeze
Thursday, November 14, 2019 | Comments

The FCC denied a waiver request from a Texas manufacturer to allow it to modify its license during a 900 MHz freeze the FCC announced in 2018.

Rohm and Haas Texas (RHT), a manufacturer of specialty materials, requested that the FCC allow it to modify its license in the 896 – 901/935 – 940 MHz band by adding two frequency pairs and that the FCC waive the current 900 MHz application freeze to allow it to do so. RHT operates a five-channel 900 MHz radio system at its facility in Deer Park, Texas, for operational and emergency communications including its own fire and rescue services.

In September 2018, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announced a temporary freeze on acceptance of applications for new or expanded use in the 900 MHz band frequencies with the purpose of preserving the current landscape while the FCC considers action that would realign the band to support broadband technologies. Earlier this year, the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would realign the band to create a 3-by-3 megahertz broadband segment while reserving the remaining 2 by 2 megahertz of spectrum for narrowband operations.

In its waiver request, RHT said that it is experiencing “system busy” calls and delayed critical voice communications. The company said that it began planning the construction of a communications tower for an upgraded 900 MHz system in November 2017 and filed an antenna structure registration (ASR) in March 2018, but the ASR was not granted until August 2018 due to delays in coordinating with tribal authorities.

The company said it was unable to locate any available channels before the application freeze was announced the following month, so it decided to repurpose channels assigned to its affiliated company Union Carbide Corporation in Texas City, about 26 miles from Deer Park. RHT’s proposed contours are not contained by Union Carbide’s licensed parameters, so grant of RHT’s application would expand use of 900 MHz band frequencies in the area.

RHT said that it meets the second prong of the FCC’s criteria for a waiver which allows a waiver in cases where the application of the rule would be “inequitable, unduly burdensome or contrary to the public interest or the applicant has no alternative.”

The FCC concluded that the circumstances in RHT’s case did not warrant a waiver of the 900 MHz freeze. It concluded that RHT being in the process of submitting an application when the freeze was announced is not sufficient reason for a waiver and the need for more capacity in an existing service is not unique or unusual.

Find the full order here.

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