Moving digital, cellularized radio systems operated by Nextel Communications and others completely out of the 800 MHz interlaced spectrum provides a nearly optimal solution to the problems described in the FCC’s WT Docket No. 02-55 proceeding to improve public safety radio communications and eliminate interference in the 800 MHz band, according to a reply comment submitted to the FCC by the state of New York. The digital systems sometimes are called ESMR, which stands for “enhanced specialized mobile radio.”

In the proceeding, the state is represented by the Statewide Wireless Network under the New York State office for Technology.

In its comment, the state goes on to say that Nextel’s original proposal also meets most of the proceeding’s objectives, except for relocation costs and limitations on spectrum availability near the border with Canada—an important factor for New York.

New York threw some support to companies described as part of critical infrastructure industries, such as utilities, telecommunications service providers, electrical transmission companies, and gas and oil pipeline operators. It wants the FCC to establish a new radio service category for CII companies with channel allocations close to the final allocation for public safety radio operations.

But SWN stressed that, whatever action the FCC takes, “under no circumstances should the FCC take action that would delay the implementation of the SWN, as it will be a critical component for homeland defense. Furthermore, the costs of mandated future public safety spectrum transitions affecting state and local governmental systems should not become a fiscal burden upon those agencies.”

The state would have problems using 700 MHz spectrum if all 800 MHz public safety radio operations were relocated there, because existing U.S.-Canadian agreements may not allow 700 MHz radio communications operations in parts of New York where signals would reach Canada.

Although the state likes the idea of relocating ESMR systems to the upper 700 MHz band, it point out that congressional authorization would be necessary.

The state doesn’t like the idea of exchanging public safety’s 24 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band for the 19 MHz of spectrum in the 800 MHz band that it said Nextel “allegedly” holds. Although an exchange of this nature would not require congressional approval, it would involve a net loss of about 5 MHz of public safety spectrum. “Completely unacceptable,” the state wrote.

New York suggests that the FCC consider relocating Nextel and other ESMRs to the 2 GHz band.

“This approach, which the state recommends, provides a nearly optimal solution to most of the major issues addressed in the [proceeding], as long as there are: 1) a firm date set for the ESMR services to transition out of the 800 MHz band, 2) a firm date for 700 MHz spectrum availability, and 3) a harmonization of the 700 MHz spectrum in the border areas, so that access can be guaranteed throughout the United States,” the reply comment reads.

With respect to Nextel’s own proposal, the state wrote that it is “desirable, but not without shortcomings.” Among the shortcomings are the lack of spectrum relief in the Canadian border regions and the lack of a funding mechanism to compensate all relocated parties.

Meanwhile the state sees moving all public safety operations to the 700 MHz band as desirable for its increase in total public safety allocations, but it sees problems once again with Canadian border regions and with delays in the clearing of incumbent TV broadcasting stations.

In its reply comment, New York warned that unless FCC rules are written to segregate noise-limited and interference-limited radio systems, future interference to public safety communications might one day come from public safety operations themselves.