‘30 more days,’ petitioners ask of FCC in 800 MHz interference proceeding
Yesterday, seventeen organizations with a stake in mobile radio communications in the 800 MHz band asked for 30 more days beyond the July 8 deadline to reply to comments submitted to the FCC in its consideration of ways to resolve interference to public safety radio systems.
The FCC proceeding in WT Docket No. 02-55 pits wireless telephone service providers—Nextel Communications foremost among them—against public safety agencies with two-way radio systems that are affected by interference from digital systems that use cellular-type architecture.
Also in the mix are companies with private radio systems, including some huge operations such as American Electric Power and Federal Express. Along with them are SMR system operators that serve a combination of business, industrial and public safety customers. Some of these companies receive interference, face expensive frequency changes or both. Some proposals would make wholesale changes in frequency groupings in the 800 MHz and other frequency bands.
Despite the conflicting interests represented by these participants, they appear to be drawing close to a compromise; hence, the request that the FCC extend the reply comment period. In an effort to be persuasive, the petitioners pointed out how much the FCC likes industry-sponsored compromises and cited Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy: “There is no question that mutual resolution of … private interests greatly assists the commission in assessing the broader public interest,” she said in another proceeding involving a spectrum reallocation.
Harlin R. McEwen represents the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major County Sheriffs Association, the Major City Chiefs Association and the National Sheriffs Association in this matter. He said his four organizations, along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, are working with companies and trade associations with commercial interests to reach a compromise plan.
“We just couldn’t bring it to a conclusion with the Independence Day holiday and the July 8 deadline,” McEwen said. “We acknowledge a lack of total agreement, but we have made major strides, and we need time to get it right.”