NPSTC, Others Submit Input on FCC’s Noise Floor Proceeding
Friday, August 19, 2016 | Comments

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) submitted comments to the FCC’s proceeding seeking comments on the noise floor. Comments were due Aug. 11.

During the past 20 years, spectrum has become increasingly crowded. Historically, public-safety communications system design has relied on a relatively low noise floor because sufficient sites to counteract a high noise floor are not affordable for many jurisdictions and may not even be possible in some areas because of environmental regulations and aesthetic concerns.

NPSTC's comments provide information on energy efficient lighting and cellular transmitters in proximity to public-safety systems. The comments also raise the need for additional study regarding potential interference from wind farms and other equipment such as solar panel inverters.

NPSTC developed and compiled a formal questionnaire and follow-up report distributed broadly throughout the public-safety community in January 2015. NPSTC designed the questions to seek information on the frequency band(s) affected, how any interference manifested itself and whether the interference has been resolved. Seventy-six public-safety agency representatives responded to the questionnaire. Fifty-five of those responding said they had no interference, with 21 providing some details on interference they had experienced. The interference cases reported span multiple bands and situations, with the VHF and VHF low band most often mentioned.

Most comments in the proceeding suggested a formal expansive study into the issue should be required. “A research study to identify if a noise problem exists seems to be a reasonable approach,” comments from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) said. “It is important that a research study be implemented to identify if a noise floor increase has occurred, and if so, what the magnitude is for different environments and frequency ranges.”

In comments, the state of California, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) said that during the past 20 years, and even more so during the past five years, the agency has encountered more interference from sources that were not previously causing interference. CalOES provided examples of interference to California Highway Patrol (CHP) low-band radios at CHP area offices immediately after new energy efficient fluorescent light fixtures were installed and a cable modem from a nearby residence causing interference to a dispatch center.

The NPSTC comments are here.

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