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New 800 MHz Spectrum Opens with Updated Part 90 Rules

New Part 90 rules adopted by the FCC Oct. 23 open 800 MHz spectrum, with 318 new 800 MHz interstitial channels becoming available.

The rules also make 40 expansion band (EB) and 40 guard band (GB) channels in 800 MHz available in National Public Safety Planning Advisory Committee (NPSPAC) regions where 800 MHz rebanding is completed.

After the rules are published in the Federal Register in coming weeks, they will be finalized.

“This is new spectrum in a key band, and we are expecting a lot of interest in it,” said Liz Sachs, partner at Lukas, Lafuria, Gutierrez & Sachs. “The rules probably won’t be effective until near year-end.”

Last week, a coalition of industry organizations urged the FCC to revise the draft rules on 800 MHz interstitial channels. The groups commented on two items — the placement and currency of the Adjacent Channel Reciprocal Interference Matrix and a recommendation by the Land Mobile Communications Council (LMCC) to use an F(50/50) curve for the interference contour.

“The FCC kept the F(50/10) interference curve instead of the F(50/50) LMCC recommended, but it took the matrix out of the rules so revising it will be significantly simpler as it won’t require another full-blown rulemaking,” Sachs said. “They inserted the matrix in the text and said they would put any proposed changes out on public notice for comment, which is what they have done in the past. We’ll be putting their speed of service to the test soon because the matrix will need to change since the derating factors have to be modified to reflect the F(50/10) curve. But removing the matrix from the rules is an important change, which is appreciated.

“Of course, the LMCC may determine that the F(50/50) interference contour is integral to making optimal use of the new interstitial channels, in which case a petition for rulemaking will be needed.”

The rules do not provide incumbent 800 MHz licensees filing priority for the EB and GB channels. The order also terminates the 1995 freeze on intercategory sharing of 800 MHz channels.

The FCC also amended its rules to add to the industrial/business (I/B) pool frequency table frequency pairs 451/456.00625 MHz and 451/456.0125 MHz, with the limitation that the authorized bandwidth not exceeds 6 kilohertz.

In addition, the FCC allowed higher power railroad signal boosters on the 452/457 MHz frequencies coordinated by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

The rules make central station alarm channels at 450 – 470 MHz available for other private LMR (PLMR) purposes. Licensees have an exclusive use opportunity for the spectrum with concurrence from The Monitoring Association (TMA).

The rules also expand conditional licensing to specific bands above 470 MHz. Specifically, the FCC amended section 90.159 to expand conditional authority to 800 MHz band (including the 800 MHz NPSPAC band) PLMR applicants, and amended section 1.931 to provide an appropriate cross-reference. The commission also amended the rules regarding 700 MHz public-safety narrowband frequencies and 800 MHz band frequencies. The FCC did not expand conditional licensing to the T-band.

The Part 90 report and order is here.

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