1. On October 22, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) released the PLMR Report and Order, which updated our rules to provide new spectrum capacity and eliminate unnecessary restrictions in the private land mobile radio (PLMR) services. Among other things, the order created 318 new “interstitial” channels in the 800 MHz Mid-Band to alleviate increased demand for spectrum capacity from public safety and other PLMR users. The order also adopted technical rules for coordinating interstitial channel applications to ensure that new stations authorized on interstitial channels would not interfere with incumbent stations on adjacent channels.
2. Following adoption of the PLMR Report and Order, the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) filed a petition for reconsideration seeking modification and clarification of some of the technical rules for coordinating interstitial channel applications. This Order on Reconsideration grants the petition in part and denies it in part. We allow for some 800 MHz interstitial channel applicants to streamline their applications, clarify standards for calculating interference contours that define the distances that must be maintained between interstitial and incumbent stations, and refine certain technical elements of the interstitial channel rules. These actions will aid public safety and other PLMR users by increasing access to interstitial channels nationwide while continuing to ensure that incumbent stations are protected. However, we decline to adopt certain LMCC proposals that would increase the risk of harmful interference or would constitute an unlawful delegation of the Commission’s authority. We also correct minor typographical errors in the rules.
3. Private radio communications systems are used by businesses, organizations, public safety agencies, and other entities to support their internal communications requirements under part 90 of the Commission’s rules. Generally, particular sets of PLMR frequency assignments, or “pools,” are associated with certain categories of users. In addition, with limited exceptions, frequency coordination—in which a Commission-certified frequency coordinator recommends frequencies that will most effectively meet the applicant’s needs while minimizing interference to existing licensees—is required before the Commission will grant a PLMR license.
4. The PLMR Report and Order created new opportunities for private radio licensees by adding interstitial channels in the 800 MHz Mid-Band, subject to certain protections designed to safeguard adjacent-channel incumbents from harmful interference. To ensure that interstitial channel stations will not cause such interference, the PLMR Report and Order requires interstitial applicants to use interference contour analysis to calculate the distance separation required between a proposed interstitial station and incumbent stations operating on adjacent channels. The order requires applicants for interstitial channels to show that the area in which the proposed interstitial station could create interference (its interference contour) will not overlap the area where an adjacent channel incumbent station provides service (its coverage contour). Additionally, the interstitial channel applicant must show that the incumbent station’s interference contour does not overlap the applicant’s proposed coverage contour. The process by which the applicant makes these showings is conventionally referred to as “contour overlap analysis.”
5. In its Petition, LMCC asks the Commission to clarify or reconsider four aspects of the contour overlap analysis required by the PLMR Report and Order. First, LMCC asks the Commission to clarify in its rules that applicants need not perform contour overlap analysis if the spacing between stations meets or exceeds co-channel distance separation criteria specified in the rules. Second, LMCC asks the Commission to permit interstitial applicants to use the proposed station’s coverage contour rather than its interference contour to predict the area in which the station is likely to cause interference. Although the Commission rejected this proposal in the PLMR Report and Order, LMCC asks the Commission to revisit that determination. Third, LMCC urges the Commission to reconsider its decision in the PLMR Report and Order not to allow interstitial applicants to calculate contour values based on a matrix chart that LMCC proposes to maintain and update on its website. In the PLMR Report and Order, the Commission rejected this proposal as contrary to the Administrative Procedure Act’s notice and comment requirements. Finally, LMCC asks the Commission to modify a footnote in a short-spacing separation table added to the Commission’s rules by the PLMR Report and Order.