EWA Comments Favor Utility Request for Public-Safety Frequencies (1/27/10)
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Comments

Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) filed comments in favor of a request to the FCC from Ameren, a large gas and electric utility in Missouri and Illinois, for a waiver to use three 800 MHz channels from the public-safety pool of frequencies. EWA noted that granting the Ameren request will serve an essential public need for reliable electrical service in the Wildwood, Mo., area, as Ameren will be using the frequencies for dispatch communications with field crews that maintain and restore electric service in that region.

The frequencies being requested have historically been used by a nonpublic-safety entity, having been assigned to Ford Motor Co. for more than a decade. This was possible under the previous FCC intercategory sharing rules, which permitted public safety, industrial, business and land transportation sharing, assuming no channels were available in a pool for which the user qualified. This practice was eliminated several years ago, so now, an FCC waiver must be granted, even if the channels are available, such as in this case when Ford terminated its license in May 2009.

“EWA is pleased that APCO International, as a representative of the public-safety community, has concurred in Ameren’s waiver request and approved the use of these channels,” said Mark E. Crosby, president and CEO of EWA in the comments. “Spectrum is simply too critical in the operation of many types of businesses to allow historical channel allocations to act as a barrier to needs such as those identified by Ameren. This is particularly the case since public safety has exclusive access for three years to 800 MHz spectrum that is vacated by Sprint Nextel as part of the FCC’s rebanding proceeding, a provision that will add a substantial number of channels in every market to those already available for public-safety use.”

The FCC requested comment on the waiver in late December. Comments are due Feb. 11.

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