FCC opens some highway frequencies for general public safety use
The FCC has deleted a regulation previously attached to some public safety radio communications frequencies that reserved their use only by highway maintenance operations conducted by “non-state” government agencies. Specifically, the FCC deleted “Note 43” from Section 90.20(d) of its rules.
The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, a Washington-based organization whose members are highway and transportation departments involved with transportation by air, highways, public transportation, rail and water, had asked the FCC to remove the restriction. The FCC said that eliminating the restriction would allow increased sharing and would increase spectrum efficiency.
Prior to 1997, any governmental entity, including police and fire departments, could apply for licenses to use the frequencies limited by Note 43 without also asking the FCC to grant a waiver. Only the state departments of transportation had to request waivers.
After various reserved frequency blocks were consolidated in October 1997, the FCC began to require that waiver requests accompany license applications for Note 43 frequencies from all applicants except county highway agencies.
The FCC began returning to AASHTO many applications for Note 43 frequencies for lack of an accompanying waiver request although the applicants would qualify for a license without a rule waiver—city street departments, for example.
The resulting burden on AASHTO's frequency coordination program in the form of incorrectly rejected license applications prompted the association to request the rule change.
With the change, 32 specific frequencies between 156MHz and 160MHz have become available for all entities eligible for licensing as a public safety agency.