Utilities urge FCC not to force 800 MHz re-tuning
In comments filed with the FCC in its proceeding to reduce or eliminate interference to public safety radio communications in the 800 MHz band, the United Telecom Council has urged the FCC not to adopt the Private Wireless Coalition’s compromise proposal, or any other requiring mandatory retuning of 800 MHz incumbents, without resolving issues affecting the future efficiency of the frequency band.
Among the key issues identified by UTC are:
the need for adequate and guaranteed funding of any mandated retuning by any incumbent licensee.
rules to encourage the implementation of advanced, more efficient technology across the band.
protection of border systems.
UTC urged the commission to look beyond the immediate problem requiring resolution—that of interference to Public Safety and other licensees from new technology—and seek a regulatory framework that would secure the long-term health of the 800 MHz band.
Joining UTC’s comments was the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the association of U.S.- based, investor-owned electric utilities. Among other supporters were the American Water Works Association, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and various critical infrastructure companies.
In its comment, UTC repeated, and EEI joined, a call for rules that would eliminate current, and prevent future, interference through updated technical parameters, coupled with regulatory flexibility to permit licensees of all user groups to re-locate as desired. UTC wrote that it cannot support mandatory re-banding, stating that mandatory re-banding would not resolve the interference, pointing out that no non-public safety funding mechanism has been suggested, and claiming that it would disrupt existing users’ systems, including those of some of the largest non-commercial licensees on the band.
“UTC continues to believe strongly that a better long-term resolution for the 800 MHz band stems from market-based solutions and tighter technical rules,” said Jill Lyon, UTC general counsel. “UTC has proposed specific recommendations for stricter technical rules that will eliminate interference while permitting all kinds of technology to operate. We don’t see adequate reason here for the FCC to abandon its own principles of regulatory flexibility and solutions by the market rather than by a regulatory agency.”
UTC supports an FCC re-examination of the 800 MHz band prior to the adoption of new rules in order to assess the effect that they may have on incumbent systems. The membership organization urges that those causing interference should be required to resolve it within a reasonable timeframe, at their cost. UTC further suggested that all parties using the 800 MHz band should have the flexibility to exchange frequencies and voluntarily retune to achieve re-banding as needed.
UTC represents the telecommunications interests of electric and gas utilities, water companies, gas pipelines and other critical infrastructure entities, along with their technology partners.