EWA Files Petition Seeking Changes to FCC’s 800 MHz Rules
Thursday, October 27, 2022 | Comments

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) filed a Petition for Rulemaking (PRM) asking the FCC to initiate a rulemaking proceeding to modify Part 90 Subpart S rules to eliminate the assignment of frequencies within the 809 – 816 / 854 – 861 MHz portion of the band to specific “pools” of eligible entities.

Despite being subject to identical technical and operational rules, frequencies are assigned to either the public-safety pool, the business/industrial/land transportation (B/ILT) pool, the specialized mobile radio (SMR) category, or the general category. In its petition, EWA recommended that the optimum policy would be to classify all frequencies as general category and make them available to all qualified applicants. EWA also asked the FCC to terminate the rule reserving so-called “Sprint-vacated” spectrum for use by certain classes of entities so those frequencies can be placed into productive use as demand dictates without further delay.

The EWA said the proposed changes are consistent with the commission’s general policy of promoting flexibility in its licensing processes and its preference for modifying outdated rules rather than relying on waiver relief. Additionally, the EWA argued that the Pool allocations were never intended as a permanent approach. The FCC stated (circa 1982) that it is “our predisposition now to have all of the barriers disappear after three years. However, this is a situation which will require monitoring between now and 1985.” That re-evaluation did not occur in 1985 or in any subsequent year, the EWA said.

Additionally, the EWA said all licenses are subject to the same power, antenna height, out-of-band emission and distance separation rules irrespective of whether the licensee is a public-safety entity, a utility, an airline or a commercial SMR operator.

The EWA argued that the requirements for obtaining access to vacant “out-of-pool” frequencies are cumbersome and costly for applicants and require FCC staff resources to review. Additionally, the organization argued that all categories of eligible entities operate on general category frequencies. EWA said there is no evidence that this intermingling has resulted in operational incompatibility, interference or any outcome that might warrant maintaining the pools.

While inflexible pool allocations presented issues prior to 800 MHz rebanding, that process has muddled the pools considerably, EWA said. The scrambling of frequencies has proven that the concept that 800 MHz licensees are assigned frequencies based on compatibility of eligibility is no longer valid, the organization said.

“This petition promotes common sense spectrum policy,” said EWA President and CEO Robin Cohen. “We look forward to working with our private wireless colleagues and the FCC in streamlining the rules governing access to the 800 MHz band to make it more efficient for land mobile licensees whether business/industrial, public safety or SMR.”

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