Bowie, Maryland

This weekend, April 26 and 27, 2003, I attended an Emergency Medical Services conference at the Greenbelt Marriott hotel, 6400 Ivy Lane, Greenbelt, MD 20770. I happened to be carrying my General Mobile Radio Service handheld radio.

As I arrived at the hotel, I heard an unidentified transmission on 462.625 MHz, dispatching a driver to pick someone up at a Metro station. I kept my radio on during breaks in the conference proceedings, and throughout the weekend I continued to hear unidentified calls on this GMRS channel, concerning room service, housekeeping and transportation of guests. No callsigns were used, only first names of the operators.

My REACT team operates a repeater on this frequency, but the transmissions were apparently simplex on the repeater output frequency, since the repeater courtesy tone never followed the unidentified transmissions. The transmissions were clearly on 462.625 MHz, not bleeding over from an interstitial Family Radio Service channel.

On Sunday morning at about 10:15, I positioned myself where I could observe the front desk while listening. I saw a desk clerk take a phone call, then disappear into a back room, and then I heard a call for someone to deliver toothpaste to a particular room. When the desk clerk came out, I approached her and asked if someone had just been called on their in-house radio to deliver toothpaste to a room, and she confirmed that fact.

I identified myself as the president of Prince Georges County REACT, showed her my GMRS radio, and explained that the use of this frequency requires a GMRS license and proper station identification. She dialed a phone number and handed the phone to me so I could repeat the explanation to a “Mr. Plummer.”

He stated that he didn't understand why this was a problem, that they had been using these radios for at least 10 years, and they have a vendor who supplies and services the radios, but he would look into it.

He did not reveal to me what the other two channels they use are, and I did not scan other GMRS frequencies to attempt to intercept them. He did not reveal to me the power level or type of equipment used, although the desk clerk going into the back room to make the radio call suggests to me that a fixed base station was being used rather than a handheld. The hotel transmissions continued on 462.625 MHz for the remainder of my stay at the conference.

Each and every member of my REACT team is burdened with the paperwork and $75 license fee to obtain individual station licenses for the General Mobile Radio Service so we can use it for volunteer community service and emergency communications. Our team can no longer obtain a single organizational license because licenses to non-individuals are being phased out.

Meanwhile, this major hotel chain is using GMRS, apparently without a license, and certainly without any station identification, for pure business purposes. This is not merely an issue of Family Radio Service units operating at GMRS power levels; it is an issue of unlicensed operation on a frequency or frequencies allocated exclusively to licensed GMRS services. The allegation that there is a vendor involved in supplying the radios is not an excuse; it is an aggravating circumstance and perhaps an additional violation.

I therefore request that you investigate this apparent violation of FCC rules, not only by the hotel, but also by the vendor or contractor who is supplying them with the radio equipment.
William M. Riley
President
Prince Georges County REACT

Spectrum policy discussion needed

Thank you for quoting Vernon Smith's comment about the March 1 Stanford University Spectrum Policy conference where he said nobody knew what they were talking about. Though all the panelists were experts in their field, none of those fields were Spectrum Management. When the AMA discusses cancer treatment policy, they don't call together plumbers, pilots, and fisherman.

Yet whenever Spectrum Management policy is discussed, it seems the Spectrum Managers aren't invited. Within the FCC and NTIA are some of the best minds in Spectrum Management. And the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC) is the oldest continuously meeting committee in government.

I applaud anyone who attempts to reform spectrum policy within the United States. The process has been evolving for nearly 80 years and is long overdue for a rebuild.

But, please, next time someone convenes a forum of great minds to think outside the box, it might be a good idea to invite a few folks who have experience inside the box.
Thomas P. Kidd III
Spectrum manager

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