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Grant of TIA Reconsideration Petition of T-Band Narrowbanding Order

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Released: November 30, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1743

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Implementation of Sections 309(j) and 337 of the
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WT Docket 99-87
Communications Act of 1934 as Amended;
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Promotion of Spectrum Efficient Technologies on
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RM-9332
Certain Part 90 Frequencies
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ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

Adopted: November 29, 2012

Released: November 30, 2012

By the Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau,
and Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology:
1. Introduction. We have before us the request of the Telecommunications Industry Association
(TIA) for clarification and/or declaratory ruling1 regarding the April 26, 2012 Order of the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and Office of Engineering
and Technology (the Bureaus) in this proceeding.2 On the Bureaus' own motion, the Order waived the
Commission's January 1, 2013 deadline for private land mobile radio (PLMR) licensees in the 470-512
MHz band to migrate to narrowband technology and a related rule pertaining to manufacture and
importation of PLMR equipment. TIA requests a ruling that the prohibition on the certification of new
equipment capable of operating in wideband mode also is waived with respect to operation in this one
band (the "T-Band").3 For the reasons set forth below, we grant the request to the extent indicated herein.
2. Background. In 1995, the Commission adopted rule changes to promote the efficient use by
the PLMR service in the 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz bands, and facilitate the introduction of
advanced technologies.4 To promote the transition to a more efficient narrowband channel plan, the
Commission provided, inter alia, that "only increasingly efficient equipment" would be approved.5 The
Commission did not set a date after which it would no longer approve equipment that could be operated in
wideband (25 kilohertz) mode, or after which such equipment could no longer be manufactured or used.6


1 Petition for Clarification and/or Declaratory Ruling (filed May 21, 2012) (Petition).
2 See Implementation of Sections 309(j) and 337 of the Communications Act of 1934 as Amended, Order, WT Docket
No. 99-87, 27 FCC Rcd 4213 (WTB/PSHSB/OET 2012) (Order).
3 See 47 C.F.R. 90.203(j)(5).
4 See Replacement of Part 90 by Part 88 to Revise the Private Land Mobile Radio Services and Modify the Policies
Governing Them, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, PR Docket No. 92-235, 10 FCC
Rcd 10076, 10077 1 (1995).
5 Id. at 10081 7.
6 Id. at 10100 40. The Commission contemplated that, as systems reached the end of their service life and new
radios were needed, users would migrate to narrower bandwidth multi-mode radios in order to avoid the adjacent-
channel interference that could occur from systems using the adjacent narrowband channels.

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1743

3. As noted in the Order, in 2003 and 2004 the Commission amended the rules to require
Industrial/Business and Public Safety Radio Pool licensees in the 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz bands
to migrate to 12.5 kilohertz channel bandwidth or utilize a technology that achieves equivalent efficiency
by January 1, 2013.7 The Commission also adopted interim deadlines to facilitate this transition to
narrowband technology. Specifically, beginning January 1, 2011: (1) the manufacture, import, or
certification of equipment capable of operating with only one voice path per 25 kilohertz of spectrum, i.e.,
equipment that includes a 25 kilohertz mode, would be prohibited;8 (2) the Commission would no longer
accept applications for new wideband 25 kilohertz operations, or modification applications that expand
the authorized contour of existing 25 kilohertz stations;9 and (3) the Commission would no longer accept
applications for certification of equipment that cannot operate in 6.25 kilohertz mode or with equivalent
efficiency.10
4. In 2010, the Commission extended the January 1, 2011 deadline for the manufacture or import
of wideband-capable equipment to match the January 1, 2013 deadline for licensees to terminate
wideband operations, but specifically declined to extend the January 1, 2011 deadline for certification of
new wideband-capable equipment.11 It concluded that the public interest would not be served by
certifying new types of equipment that would "expand the range of available 25 kHz-capable equipment
as the 12.5 kHz migration deadline approaches."12
5. On February 22, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012 (Spectrum Act),13 which, among other things, requires the Commission to conduct
an incentive auction to recover a portion of the television broadcast spectrum.14 Part of that spectrum
(UHF television channels 14-20) is also a part of the spectrum (470-512 MHz) in which these PLMR
licensees operate. In addition, Section 6103 of the legislation provides that, not later than nine years after
the date of enactment, the Commission shall "reallocate the spectrum in the 470-512 MHz band (referred
to in this section as the `T-Band spectrum') currently used by public safety eligibles as identified in


7 See 47 C.F.R. 90.209(b)(5); see also Implementation of Sections 309(j) and 337 of the Communications Act of
1934 as Amended, Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, WT Docket No.
99-87, 18 FCC Rcd 3034 (2003); Implementation of Sections 309(j) and 337 of the Communications Act of 1934 as
Amended, Third Memorandum Opinion and Order, Third Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Order, WT
Docket No. 99-87, 19 FCC Rcd 25045 (2004). Specifically, the narrowbanding deadlines apply to frequencies in the
150.8-162.0125 MHz, 173.2-173.4 MHz, and 421-512 MHz bands. Narrowbanding in the 150.05-150.8 MHz, 162-
174 MHz, and 406.1-420 MHz bands, which are allocated primarily for Federal Government use, is governed by a
different schedule. See Amendment of Parts 2 and 90 of the Commission's Rules to Provide for Narrowband Private
Land Mobile Radio Channels in the 150.05-150.8 MHz, 162-174 MHz, and 406.1-420 MHz Bands that Are
Allocated for Federal Government Use, Report and Order, ET Docket No. 04-243, 20 FCC Rcd 5793 (2005); 47
C.F.R. 90.265. Similarly, the narrowbanding requirements for 700 MHz public safety narrowband systems are
subject to a different schedule, and are not affected by this proceeding. See 47 C.F.R. 90.203(m), (n), 90.535.
8 47 C.F.R. 90.203(j)(4) (certification), (10) (manufacture and import).
9 47 C.F.R. 90.209(b)(6).
10 47 C.F.R. 90.203(j)(5).
11 See Implementation of Sections 309(j) and 337 of the Communications Act of 1934 as Amended, Order, WT
Docket No. 99-87, 25 FCC Rcd 8861, 8864 8-9 (2010). The Commission also extended to January 1, 2013 the
deadline for certifying equipment that is not capable of operating in 6.25 kilohertz mode, but specifically declined to
extend the January 1, 2011 deadline for new or expanded 25 kilohertz operations. See id. at 8865 10-11.
12 See id. at 8864 9.
13 Pub. L. No. 112-96, 126 Stat. 156 (2012).
14 Id., 6403.
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1743

section 90.303 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations" and "begin a system of competitive bidding
under section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 309(j)) to grant new initial licenses
for the use of the spectrum."15 It also provides that "relocation of public safety entities from the T-Band
spectrum" shall be completed not later than two years after completion of the system of competitive
bidding.16
6. In light of this legislation, the Bureaus released an Order on April 26, 2012 that waived the
January 1, 2013 deadline for PLMR licensees in the 470-512 MHz band licensees to migrate to 12.5
kilohertz channel bandwidth or utilize a technology that achieves equivalent efficiency.17 The Order
noted that the legislative mandate for the eventual relocation of public safety entities from the 470-512
MHz band raised issues about the disposition of the band generally, which created substantial uncertainty
regarding whether application of the narrowbanding deadline in the T-Band would continue to serve its
original purpose pending further action by the Commission.18 It concluded that, given this uncertainty, it
would be inequitable and contrary to the public interest to require PLMR licensees to meet the January 1,
2013 narrowbanding deadline with respect to frequencies in the 470-512 MHz band.19
7. The Order also waived the January 1, 2013 deadline for ending the manufacture or
importation of equipment capable of operating with only one voice path per 25 kilohertz of spectrum in
the T-band.20 We noted that manufacturers could submit permissive change requests to permit the
modification of existing wideband-capable equipment authorizations to enable wideband operation only
in the 470-512 MHz band if the change is made through software.21 Our action was intended to avoid
"prevent[ing] existing 470-512 MHz band systems from replacing or adding radios during the waiver
period," and thus "from keeping 25 kHz systems in full working order."22 The Order did not, however,
specifically address the prohibition on certification of new equipment capable of operating with only one
voice path per 25 kilohertz of spectrum in the 470-512 MHz band.
8. On May 21, 2012, TIA filed its request for clarification and/or declaratory ruling. In TIA's
view, the Order does not appear to account for the possibility that wideband radios may not be available
to T-Band licensees during this waiver period, that public safety entities may be in need of newly certified
equipment during that period, but that our reference to "permissive changes" of the "current grant"
appears to exclude the possibility of newly certified equipment. TIA requests a clarification or
declaratory ruling that the prohibition on the inclusion of wideband capability in the 470-512 MHz band
in equipment authorization applications filed on or after January 1, 2011 is also waived. Comment was
sought on TIA's request on June 13, 2012.23 Five comments were received, all in support of the request.24


15 Id., 6103(a).
16 Id., 6103(b), (c).
17 See Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 4215 7.
18 See id. at 4214 5. The Order noted that continuing to require narrowbanding could force many licensees in the
470-512 MHz band to invest in narrowband systems that may subsequently have to be relocated.
19 See id. at 4215 6.
20 Id. at 4215-16 8.
21 Id. at 4216 n.19.
22 Id. at 4215-16 8.
23 See Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and Office of
Engineering and Technology Seek Comment on Telecommunications Industry Association Petition for Clarification
and/or Declaratory Ruling Regarding Order Waiving the January 1, 2013 VHF-UHF Narrowbanding Deadline,
Public Notice, WT Docket No. 99-87, 27 FCC Rcd 6238 (WTB/PSHSB/OET 2012).
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1743

9. On October 2, 2012, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking
comment on proposals to implement the Spectrum Act mandate to conduct an incentive auction of
broadcast television spectrum, including UHF channels 14-20. While that Notice made no proposals
regarding the reallocation and auction of the T-Band spectrum used by Public Safety eligibles.25 The
Commission noted that the T-Band would be addressed in a forthcoming Public Notice intended to
advance the record on issues related to the technical, administrative, legal, and policy implications of the
Spectrum Act for T-Band licensees.26
10. Discussion. TIA argues that continuing to prohibit the certification of new equipment that is
capable of wideband operation in the T-Band may prevent licensees from adding or replacing radios as
equipment manufactured pursuant to older equipment authorizations ceases to be available, and leaves
them unable to utilize new equipment with enhanced features.27 While TIA did not caption its request as
a petition for reconsideration, we will treat it as such because it seeks review of the Order's action
waiving the January 1, 2013 deadline for PLMR licensees in the 470-512 MHz band licensees to migrate
to narrowband technology and for cutting off the manufacture or importation of equipment capable of
operating with only one voice path per 25 kilohertz of spectrum in the T-Band, but not the related
prohibition on certification of new equipment capable of operating with only one voice path per
25 kilohertz of spectrum in the 470-512 MHz band.28 For the reasons set forth below, we grant the
petition for reconsideration.
11. After the Bureaus refrained from addressing the prohibition on certification of new
equipment capable of operating with only one voice path per 25 kilohertz of spectrum in the 470-512
MHz band in the Order, the Commission determined in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with respect
to incentive auctions to release a future Public Notice seeking comment on a range of issues regarding the
T-Band spectrum. In light of the need to address and resolve these issues in future proceedings involving
the T-Band, as announced by the Commission in that Notice, we now agree with TIA that a waiver of the
prohibition on certification of new equipment capable of operating with only one voice path per
25 kilohertz of spectrum in the 470-512 MHz band is in the public interest. We conclude that the same
reasons supporting the waiver of the January 1, 2013 deadline for manufacture or importation of
equipment applies equally in the certification context. As we noted in the Order, the eventual relocation
of public safety entities from this band now required by the Spectrum Act creates "substantial uncertainty
regarding whether application of the narrowbanding deadline in the T-Band would continue to serve its
original purpose."29 In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission established a process to
address these matters but it is not clear at the present time when the issues will be resolved. Therefore,
we now conclude that the public interest would be served by waiving the prohibition on new certifications
so that PLMR licensees can utilize newly certified equipment if necessary for their operations. As with
the waivers granted in the Order, we emphasize that this waiver is granted only with respect to the 470-





24 See Comments of Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, Inc., Harris Corporation,
Land Mobile Communications Council, Motorola Solutions, Inc., and National Public Safety Telecommunications
Council.
25 See Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions, Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking
, GN Docket No. 12-268, FCC 12-118, 19 (rel. Oct. 2, 2012).
26 Id.
27 See Petition at 5.
28 See, e.g., Implementation of Section 224 of the Act, Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration, WC
Docket No. 07-245, 26 FCC Rcd 5240, 5338 n.670 (2011) (treating requests for clarification as petitions for
reconsideration).
29 Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 4214 5.
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 12-1743

512 MHz band addressed by the Spectrum Act relocation provision; certification of equipment capable of
operating with only one voice path per 25 kilohertz of spectrum in the 150-174 MHz or 421-470 MHz
bands continues to be prohibited.
12. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED pursuant to Sections 4(i), 302, 303(b), 303(g), 303(r), and 405
of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 302a, 303(b), 303(g), 303(r), and
405, and Section 1.106 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.106, that the Petition for Clarification
and/or Declaratory Ruling filed on May 21, 2012 by the Telecommunications Industry Association IS
GRANTED, and Section 90.203(j) of the Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. 90.203(j), IS WAIVED, to
the extent indicated above.
13. This action is taken under delegated authority pursuant to Sections 0.31, 0.131, 0.191, 0.241,
0.331, and 0.392 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 0.31, 0.131, 0.191, 0.241, 0.331, 0.392.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Ruth Milkman
Chief
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
David S. Turetsky
Chief
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
Julius P. Knapp
Chief
Office of Engineering and Technology
5

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