Power System Engineering, Inc. (PSE) truly is at the center of keeping America’s lights on, providing full-service consulting support nationwide to electric utilities, independent power producers, commercial and industrial electric users, and industry associations. A New England-based electrical utility hired PSE to design, procure and deploy a new mobile voice radio system for their mission-critical operations.  This project included acquiring new frequencies to coordinate digital wireless communications at 13 different mountaintop sites spanning across one state. Driving the project’s urgency was the need to deploy the systemprior to the first snowfall of the season.

PSE needed to move fast. Their first phone call was to EWA. Although the project was complex, Bill Sterner, EWA’s executive director of spectrum solutions, said, “The guys at PSE knew what they were doing and had a well-thought-out plan of where they needed to be. They were prepared and they overcame every obstacle thrown in the road.”

The project started with PSE’s submission of technical parameters that defined the entire system architecture. From these parameters, individual FCC Form 601s were prepared for each of the 13 fixed sites.  Next, a technical analysis of the industrial business pool, including designated power and petroleum frequencies, was conducted for available frequencies that could be licensed as an FB8/MO8,  centralized trunked radio system with exclusive use of the designated frequency within a given area.  EWA provided PSE with preliminary studies that provided co-channel and adjacent channel analysis reports that identified the incumbent licensed environment and the impact to those systems based on the proposed system architecture. Their use required the written concurrence of the industry specific frequency coordinator.

 Letters then were prepared and the concurrences were rendered in an expeditious manner.  The initial analysis did not turn up enough FB8/MO8 frequencies for PSE’s client, so PSE re-engineered their model, which also would utilize some pairings of shared FB2/MOs at each site, which is a hybrid trunked type radio system—some of the repeater stations listen for co-channel users before transmitting on the shared channels.

Another complication was geographical in nature.   Some of the sites are located north of Line A, necessitating Canadian involvement.  Line A is an imaginary line based on an agreement between the United States and Canada on the coordination and use of radio frequencies close to the shared border.   As the electric utility will utilize new digital equipment, all the frequencies that could not meet the FB8/MO8 requirements, which may affect incumbent analog equipment, were identified. 

In keeping with the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) frequency coordination “Best Practices” initiative, the studies that EWA provided PSE identified the type of operations of the incumbent licensees. In order to meet the client’s deadline, EWA had to take into account these fixed exigencies, as well as the FCC’s processing back log, plus the wait for Industry Canada concurrence.   The FCC process can take from 60-90 days, longer with the backlog owing to the narrowband mandate, a timeframe that may not include time for the response from Industry Canada.

Sterner stayed on top of the coordination process and kept the engineering staff at PSE informed and up to date on the process, which included advising them on the revised methodology devised by LMCC, which is recognized by the FCC regarding the use of the Adjacent Channel Contour Values (ACCV) table for FCC Public Safety and Industrial/Business trunked radio system applications. The table identifies incumbent licensees that will be recognized as affected parties for purposes of certifying applications for exclusive-use channels in centralized and hybrid trunked radio communications systems.

This continual update process benefited PSE while FB8 channels were identified. Even with a complicated process with many segments, EWA received positive reviews from PSE on how smooth the course of action has been throughout. As Charles Plummer, PSE’s director of communications infrastructure, said, “Bill did a great job of keeping us informed throughout the process. This was phenomenal service on the part of EWA.”