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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).



(WT DOCKET 96-86)

Today the Commission adopted rules for licensing the largest block of spectrum ever allocated at one time for public safety services. In a document that includes both a First Report and Order (First Report) and a Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Third Notice), the Commission establishes service rules for licensing 24 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum in the 764-806 MHz band (referred to as the 700 MHz band), establishes a band plan for use of this spectrum, seeks comment on how to license the remaining portion of the public safety spectrum (8.8 MHz) and on additional proposals to implement effective public safety nationwide interoperability. The First Report also announces the Commission's plan to establish a National Coordination Committee that will seek accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and be charged with, among other things, developing national standards for operation and use of the spectrum allocated for nationwide interoperability.

This 24 MHz of spectrum, recently reallocated for public safety use from TV Channels 63, 64, 68 and 69 in the broadcast service, doubles the amount of spectrum available nationally for state and local public safety communications. By this action, the Commission addresses an urgent need for additional public safety radio spectrum, and also designates spectrum to support nationwide interoperability among local, state, and federal entities.

Entities eligible for licensing in this new public safety spectrum in the 700 MHz band include state and local governments and non-governmental organizations specifically authorized by appropriate state or local agencies. In compliance with statutory requirements, federal entities will not be eligible to be licensed in this spectrum, but will have access to the nationwide interoperability channels.

In the rules adopted in the First Report, this spectrum is channelized into narrowband and wideband channels that will accommodate voice, data, image, high speed data and video transmissions. From the 24 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, the Commission designates 12.6 MHz for general use and 2.6 MHz for nationwide interoperability purposes among all public safety agencies. In addition, in the Third Notice, the Commission seeks comment on how to license the remaining 8.8 MHz.

In the First Report, the Commission announces that it will establish a National Coordination Committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) to provide a national structure to establish standards for coordinated spectrum use, particularly for interoperability purposes. The major responsibilities of this Committee will be to: (1) formulate a national interoperability plan for Commission review and approval; (2) develop standards pursuant to ANSI guidelines for the interoperability channels, including potentially standards for digital modulation and trunking; (3) provide voluntary assistance in the development of coordinated regional plans; and (4) provide recommendations to the Commission on technical matters that are common to the public safety community as a whole.

Other provisions adopted in the First Report include: (1) continuing to rely on the Regional Planning Committee process for planning use of approximately one half of the 24 MHz, but allowing a degree of flexibility for reformation of Regional Planning Committee boundaries; (2) giving Regional Planning Committees the responsibility for developing plans for the efficient and effective use of the 12.6 MHz of general use spectrum in this band; (3) adopting plans for technical standards providing the minimum necessary constraints that meet reasonable goals for nationwide interoperability, spectrum use efficiency and interference protection; (4) designating the four certified public safety frequency coordinators as eligible to provide frequency coordination in the 700 MHz band in order to provide competition among coordinators and market incentives for lower coordination fees and quality service; (5) protecting analog TV and DTV stations from harmful interference; and (6) requiring that licensees authorized to operate within 75 miles of the Canadian and Mexican borders be subject to the condition that no interference is caused to television reception in those countries and that their authorization also be subject to any further conditions imposed by final agreements or treaties concluded between the United States and those countries.

In the Third Notice, the Commission seeks comment on how to license the remaining 8.8 MHz. Specifically the Commission asks whether some or all of the 8.8 MHz should be licensed directly to each state for deployment of statewide systems, or whether it should be given to the Regional Planning Committees along with the 12.6 MHz general use spectrum addressed in the First Report. The Third Notice also seeks comments on any alternative proposals for use and licensing of the 8.8 MHz. In addition, the Third Notice seeks comment on whether to permit each state to administer the nationwide interoperability frequencies (2.6 MHz of spectrum) pursuant to the national interoperability plan to be established by the National Coordination Committee. Lastly, the Third Notice proposes and seeks comment on: (1) designating five interoperability channels in existing public safety bands below 512 MHz, including the 150-174 and the 450-512 MHz bands; (2) whether channels in the 138-144 MHz bands should be designated for public safety use generally, and interoperability use specifically (a future proceeding will address permanent use of these channels); (3) redesignating three frequency pairs in the 156-162 MHz band for interoperability in 33 Economic Areas that are now available for public safety use; and (4) establishing technical solutions to address possible interference problems to global navigation satellite systems.

Actions by the Commission, August 6, 1998, by First Report and Order and Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 98-191). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani.


News Media contact: Meribeth McCarrick at 202-418-0654
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau contact: John Clark at (202) 418-0680