Tips for registering Part 90 Class B signal boosters
Signal boosters are commonly used by public safety, critical infrastructure, petroleum and utility entities that operate private land mobile radio systems to fill coverage gaps in order to achieve seamless communications within a defined area.
Does your organization use signal boosters or bi-directional amplifiers (BDAs)? If so, this article discusses new FCC requirements for you to legally operate such devices.
In February 2013, the FCC implemented a new filing requirement for users of Part 90 Class B signal boosters. The commission also announced that there may be Enforcement Bureau action for users that do not comply with the registration requirements. By creating an FCC database of all Class B signal booster installations, licensees will be able to search online for signal-booster installations if they experience interference or other degradations to their own properly licensed operating system. This will permit licensees to identify and have the FCC take action on signal boosters that are causing harmful interference.
On January 8, 2014, the commission released a public notice announcing availability of software to licensees for on-line registration of locations where Part 90 Class B Signal Boosters are in operation. If you’re operating a signal booster, the following will help you determine whether your equipment requires registration with the FCC by the mandated deadlines, and understand the process for doing so.
Let’s start by examining the difference between a Part 90 Class A signal booster and a Class B signal booster.
· Class A – referred to as the Narrowband BDA. These signal boosters amplify only those discrete channels intended to be retransmitted, and they only are capable of single-channel selectivity. Although some systems may have multiple channels in the same package and the signal is capable of transmitting on each specific channel/frequency identified in the system, the system will only one transmit/receive one pair at a time.
· Class B – referred to as the Broadband BDA. These devices amplify all signals within the passband of the signal-booster filter. For example, the bandpass range could be operations in the entire 450-470 MHz band. Class B boosters only are permitted to be used in confined or indoor areas such as buildings, tunnels or underground areas, or in remote areas where there is little or no risk of interference to other licensees.
While only Class B signal boosters need to be registered per the new rules, the equipment must include a label with the following information:
WARNING. This is NOT a CONSUMER device. It is designed for installation by FCC licensees and qualified installers. You MUST have an FCC LICENSE or express[ed] consent of an FCC licensee to operate this device. You MUST register Class B signal boosters (as defined in 47 CFR. 90.219) online at: www.fcc.gov/signal-boosters/registration. Unauthorized use may result in significant forfeiture penalties, including penalties in excess of $100,000 for each continuing violation.
However, both Class A and B signal boosters must meet the following operating requirements of 47 CFR Part 90.219, as follows:
1. The amplified signal must be retransmitted on the exact frequency (or frequencies) of the originating base, fixed, mobile or portable device.
2. The booster cannot extend the system’s normal licensed signal coverage area – the design is to be used only to fill in weak signal areas.
3. Power limitations of 5 watts Effective Radiated Power (ERP) for all conditions (Class A) and each authorized frequency (Class B).
4. Licensees employing Class A or Class B signal boosters are responsible for correcting any harmful interference that the equipment may cause to other systems. Normal co-channel transmissions will not be considered as harmful interference. Licensees will be required to resolve interference problems pursuant to 90.173 (b).
5. The devices must display the aforementioned warning label.
The FCC further mandated two important registration deadlines for licensees:
1. Before November 1, 2014: Licensees are required to register locations of all existing Part 90 Class B signal boosters in use.
2. After November 1, 2014: New and existing licensees are required to register locations of all new Part 90 Class B signal boosters prior to being put into operation.
Use of Part 90 Class B signal boosters not registered by November 1, 2014, or prior to first use after November 1, 2014, will be deemed “unauthorized operations” and may be subject to Enforcement Bureau actions.
How to register a signal booster
Licensees will be permitted to register operating locations of Part 90 Class B signal boosters via their 10-digit FCC registration number (“FRN”) and associated password. There are no FCC filing fees for such registrations. Licensees can register their signal boosters, including location, via the following link: fcc.gov/signal-boosters/registration.
The licensee must provide the following:
- Coordinates (decimal format, e.g., 00.000000) or location address;
- Location description;
- FCC license call sign(s) operating in connection with the booster;
- Frequency band of the booster;
- Company contact information – up to two points of contact;
- Licensee contact information—may be an organization or vendor submitting the registration on behalf of the company;
- Name and title of an officer, director or authorized employee to execute the application.
The commission also has established a two-step transition process and label requirements for manufacturers of Part 90 signal boosters sold and marketed in the United States.
1. As of February 20, 2013, the FCC no longer will accept applications for equipment certification for Part 90 signal boosters that do not comply with the commission’s new rules. The commission will cease certification of devices that do not comply with the new rules.
2. Starting March 1, 2014, all industrial signal boosters sold and marketed in the U.S. for Part 90, private internal operations, must meet the FCC’s new rules.
Again, the equipment must include the aforementioned warning label.
The deadline will be here before you know it, so it’s time to get to work. Good luck!
Elizabeth Buckley is principle of FCC-FAA Licensing, LLC, and previously was telecommunications licensing manager for Keller and Heckman.