Industrial Telecommunications Association, Inc.

April 13, 1998

Mr. Richard D. Lee
Chief, Compliance and Information Bureau
Federal Communications Commission
1919 "M" Street, N.W., Room 734
Washington, D.C. 20554

Re: Memorandum of Understanding -- Frequency Advisory Committee Assistance in the Resolution of Interference and Compliance Reports

Dear Mr. Lee:

The Industrial Telecommunications Association, Inc. ("ITA"), hereby respectfully submits for your consideration and approval this Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU"). The execution of this MOU between the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") and ITA will introduce technical and administrative protocols that will dramatically streamline the FCC's compliance and enforcement processes in the resolution of interference complaints in the land mobile communications industry.

By taking advantage of the resources that the FCC-certified frequency advisory committees may provide in the resolution of compliance and interference complaints, the Compliance and Information Bureau will significantly support the mandate of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by protecting fair competition in the land mobile communications marketplace through the expedited enforcement of FCC rules and regulations. The execution of this MOU, and the adoption of an enforcement complaint standard, will also provide the land mobile communications industry with a sense of confidence that their systems will be vigorously protected from interference caused by non-compliant and unlicensed operators.

I. Objective

1. The objective of this proposal is to formalize an arrangement whereby the Commission's certified frequency advisory committees ("FACs") will work in concert with the FCC's Compliance and Information Bureau ("CIB") to protect the technical and regulatory integrity of the land mobile communications environment. As discussed in detail at section III infra, and attached as Exhibit A, ITA has prepared a technical and administrative standard for the collection of all information relevant to process a compliance or interference matter. With the adoption of this standard, the Commission may rely on its participating FACs to research and verify the substance of a compliance or interference complaint. With the receipt of this FAC report the Commission will be in a position to act with dispatch to resolve disputes relating to non-compliance with the FCC's technical, operational, and regulatory requirements in the land mobile communications industry.

a. Promotion of fair competition

2. Under FCC Chairman Kennard's leadership, the Commission has committed its resources to the promotion of fair competition. For a fair competitive environment to thrive, all participants must be on an equal regulatory footing, and the rules of the marketplace must be applied equally to all. ITA fully supports and commends the Commission's efforts to revitalize a responsive compliance initiative that will serve to augment the agency's overall spectrum management objectives. The goal of this MOU is to prevent licensees who intentionally corrupt the spectrum environment and licensees who operate beyond the technical or regulatory limits of their license authority from operating at the expense of compliant licensees.

b. Conservation of Commission resources

3. By adopting ITA's proposed standard for the resolution of compliance and interference complaints, the Commission will be able to conserve its own resources. By agreeing to grant considerable weight and deference to a FAC-prepared compliance and interference report, the Commission will conserve the resources it would otherwise expend in the research and verification of a licensee filed complaint.

4. A joint FCC/FAC compliance and interference resolution process will also serve to educate the land mobile communications industry on compliance with FCC rules and regulations. Once put into practice, a standardized system for direct FAC involvement in interference resolution will permit the FACs to notify non-compliant licensees of their obligations under the Commission's rules and regulations. As industry becomes aware that a FAC interference report is granted deference by the Commission, we anticipate that a clear majority of interference complaints may be resolved through FAC negotiation, obviating the need for Commission action to stop such interference.

II. Legislative and Regulatory Authority

a. Legislative Authority

5. The formalization of a procedure for FAC reporting and resolution of compliance and information complaints is fully consistent with the Telecommunications Act of 1934, as amended, ("the Act"). Under section 332(b)(1) of the Act, the Commission, "in coordinating the assignment of frequencies to stations in the private land mobile services . . . shall have the authority to utilize assistance furnished by advisory coordinating committees." 1 The resolution of compliance and interference complaints is a component of the coordination of frequency assignments.

6. When an entity operates without Commission authorization, or beyond the scope of legitimate or necessary technical authorizations, the radio spectrum on which it operates becomes un-coordinatable. This results in inefficient spectrum use and unfairly burdens legitimate operators and applicants. Under a plain language interpretation of section 332(b)(1) of the Act, the Commission is well within its authority to accept the assistance of FACs in the resolution of compliance and interference complaints as part of an efficient frequency assignment process.

b. Regulatory Authority

7. Under section 90.7 of the Commission's rules, frequency coordination is defined as:

The process of obtaining the recommendation of a frequency coordinator for a frequency(ies) that will most effectively meet the applicant's needs while minimizing interference to licensees already operating within a given frequency band (emphasis added).2

8. As discussed above and highlighted here, the process of frequency coordination is, by its very definition, an analysis of potential interference. The Commission recognized this fact when, in the Order designating the several FACs, it required FAC participation in the resolution of post-licensing conflicts:

Several reasons persuade us to require coordinator participation in post-licensing conflicts stemming from frequency selections and recommendations. First, the coordinator, with its specific knowledge of user requirements and local conditions, is in the best position to resolve such problems. Second, we believe that the coordinator should be made aware of such post-licensing problems as soon as possible since knowledge of these problems could affect pending or future coordination requests. Finally, as an organization representative of the affected licensee, the coordinator is uniquely qualified to provide objective and informed assistance regarding post licensing problems (emphasis added). 3

9. Because the Commission not only contemplates, but requires the participation of the FACs in the post-licensing interference resolution process, the instant proposal would require no rule making action by the Commission. All that is required of the Commission is the commitment to act upon compliance and interference complaints that are accompanied by FAC-collected and verified information.

III. FAC Initiated Interference Resolution Process

10. Under the ITA proposed standard, the FACs will field initial interference and/or compliance complaints from a licensee or its representative. Each complaint will be processed through the completion of a standard Compliance Request Report ("CRR"), and assigned an administrative CRR tracking number. [A copy of the proposed standard CRR form is attached at Exhibit A.] Based on the information reported on the form, the FAC will be able to make a determination as to whether the source of the complaint is educational, technical, or operational in nature and propose resolutions accordingly.

a. Educational Problems and Resolutions

11. It has been ITA's experience that many interference problems are caused by licensees unwittingly operating beyond the scope of their license authorization. In these cases, resolution of the interference problem may be achieved simply by notifying the offending licensee of its obligations under FCC rules and regulations. By educating unsophisticated licensees on sharing requirements (i.e., monitoring, use of call signs, etc.) all parties may institute an equitable resolution to the interference without the need for Commission action.

12. In cases where an unlicensed or improperly licensed operator is identified, FACs may assist in preparation and application for proper FCC authorization, including the resolution of interference through standard coordination processes. However, in these cases the FAC will immediately notify the Commission of the unlicensed operator notwithstanding the resolution of the matter. Resolution by the FAC will not preclude the Commission from taking further appropriate action.

13. Upon the resolution of an "educational" interference problem, the reporting FAC will summarize the problem and its resolution to all parties in writing. After a period of 30 days, the FAC will initiate correspondence with all parties to verify the resolution of the matter. Upon a determination that the matter has been satisfactorily resolved, the CRR file will be closed but kept on record with the FAC and made available to the FCC upon request.

b. Technical Problems and Resolutions

14. In the large majority of technical interference cases, the offending party is readily identifiable. However, when a technical interference complaint of unknown origin is filed, the FAC will attempt to identify the source of the interference through local monitoring conducted by the complainant licensee, its service representative, or an independent provider. Only when all attempts to identify the source of the interference are unsuccessful, will the FAC solicit the assistance of the local FCC field office.

15. Upon identification of the interference source, the FAC will notify the offending licensee/operator that the problem exists and recommend technical solutions available through the FAC or independent service provider. These technical solutions may include but are not limited to: reducing power, lowering antenna height, antenna pattern reconfiguration, or the selection of an alternative frequency.

16. If an engineering or technical resolution to the problem is available, the reporting FAC will summarize the problem and its resolution to all parties in writing. After a period of 30 days, the FAC will initiate correspondence with all parties to verify the resolution of the matter. Upon a determination that the matter has been satisfactorily resolved, the CRR file will be closed but kept on record with the FAC and made available to the FCC upon request.

c. Operational Problems and Resolutions

17. In addition to educational and technical interference cases, there are also operational problems that may not be causing interference, but are negatively impacting the competitive environment. Specifically, operational issues concern instances where a licensee operates a radio system in non-compliance with its license authorization, e.g., a private system providing a commercial service.

18. Because of their specific knowledge of local conditions, the FACs are often made aware of suspect operations by the adversely affected Commission licensees. In these cases, the FAC is able to research the license terms and authorized operational parameters of the non-compliant system and request documentation supporting the service in operation.

19. If, through negotiation with the non-compliant licensee, the FAC is able to resolve the operational problem, the FAC will summarize the problem and its resolution to all parties in writing. After a period of 30 days, the FAC will initiate correspondence with all parties to verify the resolution of the matter. Upon a determination that the matter has been satisfactorily resolved, the CRR file will be closed but kept on record with the FAC and made available to the FCC upon request.

d. FCC/CIB Participation

20. If, despite notification and identification of an interference problem by the FAC, the parties are unable or unwilling to pursue the recommended educational or technical solutions to the interference problem, the FAC will submit the relevant CRR report to the CIB field office with geographic jurisdiction, and to the CIB offices in Washington, D.C. The CRR report will identify all parties to the dispute, provide all background information (i.e., call signs involved, identified non-compliance, location of unlicensed system, etc.) as well as the FAC-recommended regulatory or technical solution (i.e., system modification, license modification, FCC enforcement, etc.).

21. Upon submission of the CRR report to the appropriate CIB field office, it is recommended that the submitting FAC be notified of a single point of contact within that field office that will manage the resolution of the matter. By identifying a single point of contact, the reporting FAC will be in a position to quickly update the CRR report with any information that becomes available after filing and remain readily available for any negotiation process. Upon notification of resolution by the CIB, the CRR file will be closed but kept on record with the FCC.

IV. Implementation

22. As discussed in section II, supra, the implementation of this proposal is within the existing authority of the FCC and requires no rule making action. However, in order to ensure a smooth implementation process, ITA suggests the following:

  • The FCC execute this Memorandum of Understanding by responding to ITA by letter, and announcing by Public Notice its commitment to accept compliance and interference complaints submitted in the form of a standard Frequency Advisory Committee Compliance Request Report.

  • The CRR report standard be announced by Public Notice and made available to all FACs.

  • The public announcement of the standard include support from the Commission that effectively notifies the industry that the Commission will henceforth grant substantial weight and deference to a CRR report filed by one of its FACs.

  • This agreement may be canceled at any time by either party upon 30 days notice.

  • This agreement may be modified at any time upon written agreement of the parties.

  • V. Conclusion

    23. ITA believes that this proposal serves the public interest, convenience, and necessity and comports with the stated policy objectives of the Commission. By conserving Commission resources, streamlining administrative processes, and promoting fair competition, this proposal provides the FCC with the opportunity to enhance compliance and enforcement procedures for the benefit of both the Commission and its licensees.

    24. ITA looks forward to your response to this Memorandum of Understanding and to working with you in the future.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Industrial Telecommunications Association, Inc.
    1110 North Glebe Road, Suite 500
    Arlington, Virginia 22201-5720
    (703) 528-5115

    /s/ Mark E. Crosby

    Mark E. Crosby
    President & CEO

    /s/ John M. R. Kneuer

    John M. R. Kneuer
    Executive Director, Government Relations


    1. 1 See 47 U.S.C. 332(b)(1).

    2. 2 47 C.F.R. 90.7.

    3. 3 In the Matter of Frequency Coordination in the Private Land Mobile Radio Services, Report and Order, PR Docket No. 83-737, 103 FCC 2nd 1093 (1986).