FCC Modifies Rules on 800 MHz Interstitial Channels
Thursday, May 14, 2020 | Comments

In an order on reconsideration, the FCC modified its 2018 800 MHz interstitial rules to specify that applications for interstitial channels do not need to conduct a contour analysis if the distances in the commission’s co-channel spacing rules are met or exceeded. The updated rules also include a revised matrix submitted by the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) that uses contour values based on interference and not coverage to predict interference.

However, the FCC again rejected LMCC’s request that, rather than codifying the matrix in its rules, the commission allow applicants to use a matrix posted on the LMCC website, which LMCC could periodically update to reflect new technology developments.

Further, the commission clarified that applicants for interstitial channels should assume that incumbent stations are operating at the maximum permitted effective radiated power (ERP) associated with the station’s licensed antenna height when calculating the potential of the new station to cause interference to the incumbent. The order also corrects several clerical errors and omissions in the rule section.

In its 2018 Part 90 rules update, the FCC created 318 new interstitial channels in the 800 MHz mid-band to alleviate increased demand for spectrum capacity from public safety and other private LMR (PLMR) users. The order also adopted technical rules for coordinating interstitial channel applications to ensure that new stations authorized on interstitial channels would not interfere with incumbent stations on adjacent channels.

Following adoption of 2018 order, the LMCC filed a petition for reconsideration seeking modification and clarification of some of the technical rules for coordinating interstitial channel applications. The latest order on reconsideration grants the petition in part and denies it in part.

“We allow for some 800 MHz interstitial channel applicants to streamline their applications, clarify standards for calculating interference contours that define the distances that must be maintained between interstitial and incumbent stations, and refine certain technical elements of the interstitial channel rules,” the order said. “These actions will aid public safety and other PLMR users by increasing access to interstitial channels nationwide while continuing to ensure that incumbent stations are protected. However, we decline to adopt certain LMCC proposals that would increase the risk of harmful interference or would constitute an unlawful delegation of the commission’s authority.”

The full order is here.

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