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TETRA Waiver Clarification Order

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Released: September 28, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

DA 11-1604

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Amendment of Part 90 of the
)
WT Docket No. 11-69
Commission's Rules to Permit
)
Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA)
)
Technology
)
)

Request by the TETRA Association for
)
ET Docket No. 09-234
Waiver of Sections 90.209, 90.210 and
)
2.1043 of the Commission's Rules
)

ORDER ON CLARIFICATION

Adopted: September 26, 2011

Released: September 28, 2011

By the Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau,
and Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1. This Order on Clarification responds to petitions for clarification of a waiver granted by the
Commission pending the outcome of this rulemaking proceeding. In the Notice of Proposed Rule Making
and Order
(Waiver Order) in this proceeding,1 the Commission proposed to amend its rules to permit the
certification and use of Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) equipment under Part 90 of the Rules. The
Commission also granted in part a request for waiver filed by the TETRA Association (the Association),
to permit certification and use of TETRA equipment pending the outcome of the rulemaking proceeding.2
Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA), Motorola Solutions, Inc. (Motorola), the National Public Safety
Telecommunications Council, and the Telecommunications Industry Association requested clarification
of certain aspects of the Waiver Order.3 In response to those petitions, we below clarify the scope of the
waiver granted by the Commission.

II.

BACKGROUND

2. TETRA is a digital, trunked radio technology that operates with Time Division Multiple


1 See Amendment of Part 90 of the Commission's Rules to Permit Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) Technology,
Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Order, WT Docket 11-69, 26 FCC Rcd 6503 (2011) (Waiver Order).
2 Id. at 6510-11 20-24.
3 See Request for Clarification or, in the Alternative, for Limited Reconsideration filed by Enterprise Wireless
Alliance (filed May 26, 2011) (EWA Petition); Motorola Solutions, Inc. Request for Clarification (filed May 26,
2011) (Motorola Petition); Request for Clarification of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council
(filed May 26, 2011) (NPSTC Petition); Telecommunications Industry Association Petition for Clarification and/or
Declaratory Ruling (filed May 26, 2011) (TIA Petition). The Association filed a consolidated responsive pleading.
See Consolidated Response of the TETRA Association to Requests for Clarification, Request for Limited
Reconsideration, and Petition for Declaratory Ruling (filed June 8, 2011) (Association Response). PowerTrunk, Inc.
filed comments. See Letter dated June 8, 2011 from Jose M. Martin, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating
Officer, PowerTrunk, Inc. EWA filed a reply to the TETRA Response. See Reply to Consolidated Response of the
TETRA Association (filed June 21, 2011).

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DA 11-1604

Access in four-slot channels within a twenty-five kilohertz bandwidth. In 2009, the Association, on
behalf of manufacturers, filed a request for waiver of the Part 90 occupied bandwidth limit and emission
masks, which would allow the use of TETRA technology in the United States.4 It also requested a waiver
to permit manufacturers that had obtained Commission certification of TETRA radios that comply with
the Part 90 rules by using reduced power to upgrade to the TETRA standard without requiring a new
grant of equipment certification.5
3. The Commission concluded that the general question of whether to permit TETRA
technology on a permanent basis should be considered in a rulemaking proceeding, and sought comment
on proposed amendments to the Part 90 rules to accommodate TETRA technology.6 The Commission
also granted the Association's waiver request in part, to permit certification and use of TETRA
equipment, subject to certain conditions, pending the outcome of the rulemaking proceeding.7
Specifically, in response to commenters' concern about potential interference to public safety
communications, the Commission limited operation of TETRA equipment pursuant to the waiver to
Industrial/Business Pool frequencies in the 450-470 MHz band, and Enhanced Specialized Mobile Radio
(ESMR) frequencies in the 800 MHz band.8 In addition, to address concerns about near-far interference,9
the waiver did not authorize use of TETRA equipment on the 800 MHz band channels on which operation
of high density cellular systems10 is prohibited.11 The Commission stated that the Association appeared to


4 For devices operating with twenty-five kilohertz channel spacing, Section 90.209(b)(5) of our Rules limits the
authorized bandwidth to twenty kilohertz, and Section 90.210 of our Rules specifies particular emission masks. See
47 C.F.R. 90.209(b)(5), 90.210(b), (c), (g). TETRA equipment, however, exceeds these limits, because the
European Technical Standards Institute (ETSI) standard does not set occupied bandwidth limits. Instead, the ETSI
standard sets limits for adjacent channel power and for unwanted emissions at different frequency offsets. This
results in operation with a bandwidth of up to twenty-two kilohertz, and excursions of up to five decibels from the
Part 90 emission masks. See Waiver Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 6504 4.
5 Certain changes to approved equipment, including changes to the maximum power, generally are not allowed
without a new equipment certification. 47 C.F.R. 2.1043(a).
6 See Waiver Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 6506-08 8-15.
7 Id. at 6510-11 20-24.
8 Id. at 6510 20.
9 Near-far interference has been explained as follows:
Cellular systems, by design, are composed of large numbers of base stations within a relatively
small geographic area. Public safety systems, on the other hand, are typically composed of high-
powered base stations operating at a few sites that provide coverage to a large geographic area.
This mix of network architectures often result in an interference scenario--sometimes referred to
as "near-far"--that arises when a cellular system operates in close proximity to a public safety
system. In the near-far scenario, interference occurs where a public safety mobile/portable unit
receives a stronger signal from a nearby, adjacent channel commercial base station rather than
from the desired, distant public safety transmitter.
See Service Rules for the 698-746, 747-762 and 777-792 MHz Bands, Second Report and Order, WT
Docket No. 06-150, 22 FCC Rcd 15289, 15386 n.606 (2007).
10 See 47 C.F.R. 90.614; see also 47 C.F.R. 90.7 (defining 800 MHz high density cellular system as a cellular
system that has more than five overlapping interactive sites featuring hand-off capability, and any one of such sites
has an antenna height of less than 30.4 meters (100 feet) above ground level with an antenna height above average
terrain of less than 152.4 meters (500 feet). See also 47 C.F.R. 90.619 Table C10 (ESMR Category 817824/862
869 MHz Channels Available for 800 MHz High Density Systems in the Canada border region).
11 See Waiver Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 6510-11 20.
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DA 11-1604

request a waiver to permit certification and use of TETRA equipment in the 450-470 MHz, 806-849
MHz, and 851-894 MHz bands, but that only the 806-824/851-869 MHz portion of the 806-849/851-894
MHz bands is designated for Part 90 use, and only the 817-824/862-869 MHz segment is designated for
high density cellular systems.12 Consequently, the waiver was limited to the 450-470 MHz and 817-
824/862-869 MHz bands.13
4. Regarding implementation of the waiver, the Commission stated that licensees seeking to
convert existing systems to TETRA equipment must file a modification application to reflect the different
technical parameters, but that frequency coordination would not be required where the only change is to
reflect the TETRA emission.14 Finally, for certificated TETRA devices that had already received
equipment approval using reduced power, and can be modified to operate with a higher transmitter output
power by software upgrade without any hardware change, the Commission waived its equipment
authorization rules to permit the modification to full power as a Class II permissive change without a new
equipment authorization.15
5. The petitioners request clarification of four issues related to the licensing and equipment
authorization of TETRA devices. We address those issues below.

III.

DISCUSSION

6. Use of TETRA in the 800 MHz Band. As noted above, the Waiver Order limited operation of
TETRA equipment to the ESMR segment of the 800 MHz band (817-824/862-869 MHz), and specifically
prohibited operation of TETRA equipment in portions of the 800 MHz band occupied by public safety
licensees. Three parties seek clarification of the Commission's decision.16 They note that certain public
safety licensees will continue to operate in the ESMR band segment at 821-824/866-869 MHz until the
reconfiguration of the 800 MHz band is complete.17 Consequently, these parties ask us to clarify that the
Waiver Order prohibits licensees from operating TETRA equipment in the 821-824/866-869 MHz
portion of the band while this band segment remains occupied by public safety licensees. For instance,
Motorola opines that absent such a clarification, the Waiver Order would appear to permit the "mingling"
of TETRA systems with public safety systems in areas where band reconfiguration is still ongoing.18
Conversely, the Association believes there is no need to ban the operation of TETRA devices on any
frequency in the 821-824/866-869 MHz portion of the band, arguing that parties can address concerns
over co-channel interference through the frequency coordination process.19
7. The Commission's intent in the Waiver Order was to ensure that TETRA equipment would


12 Id. at 6511 24 (citing 47 C.F.R. 90.601, 90.614).
13 Id.
14 Id. at 6511 n.59.
15 Id. at 6511 23.
16 See Motorola Petition at 2-3; NPSTC Petition at 3; TIA Petition at 2-3.
17 For additional information on the reconfiguration of the 800 MHz band, see Improving Public Safety
Communications in the 800 MHz Band, Report and Order, Fifth Report and Order, Fourth Memorandum Opinion
and Order, and Order
, WT Docket 02-55, 19 FCC Rcd 14969 (2004); Improving Public Safety Communications in
the 800 MHz Band, Supplemental Order and Order on Reconsideration, WT Docket 02-55, 19 FCC Rcd 25120
(2004); Improving Public Safety Communications in the 800 MHz Band, Memorandum Opinion and Order, WT
Docket 02-55, 20 FCC Rcd 16015 (2005).
18 Motorola Petition at 3.
19 See Association Response at 4.
3

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DA 11-1604

not be operated in the vicinity of public safety systems.20 Consequently, we clarify that the Waiver Order
does not permit operation of TETRA equipment in the 821-824/866-869 MHz portion of the band in any
Public Safety Region where band reconfiguration is still underway.21 Once the Public Safety and
Homeland Security Bureau releases a Public Notice announcing the completion of band reconfiguration
in a Public Safety Region, licensees may operate TETRA equipment in the 821-824/866-869 MHz
portion of the band in that region in accordance with the Waiver Order.22 We disagree with the
Association that the record before the Commission was sufficient to conclude that frequency coordination
would suffice to protect public safety systems against interference from TETRA systems in the 821-
824/866-869 MHz portion of the band.23 Frequency coordination, which considers only potential 800
MHz co-channel interference, does not protect public safety licenses against the "near-far" interference of
concern to the Commission in the Waiver Order.24
8. We do agree, however, that frequency coordination is sufficient to protect public safety
licensees operating in an adjacent region, because the "near-far" interference scenario is less likely to
occur when the operators of TETRA equipment are geographically separated from public safety licensees.
Therefore, in a Public Safety Region where band reconfiguration is complete that is adjacent to one or
more Public Safety Regions where band reconfiguration is not complete, applicants proposing to employ
TETRA equipment under the Waiver Order must go through frequency coordination in order to protect
public safety licensees on a co-channel spacing basis in the adjacent region(s) where band reconfiguration
is not yet complete,25 notwithstanding the exemption from frequency coordination discussed in the
following paragraphs.
9. Frequency Coordination for Existing Systems. The Commission stated in the Waiver Order
that it would not require frequency coordination for modification applications filed to change the
technical parameters when an existing system converts to TETRA equipment.26 In support of this
decision, the Commission cited its action in the Narrowbanding Order exempting narrowbanding
applications from the frequency coordination requirement on the grounds that they would "not `have an
impact on near-term frequency selections.'"27 EWA points out, however, that the rule change adopted in
the Narrowbanding Order exempted from the frequency coordination requirement only modification


20 See Waiver Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 6510-11 22.
21 There are fifty-five 800 MHz Public Safety Regions where Regional Planning Committees oversee public safety
channel assignments in the 806-809/851-854 MHz segment of the band. See 47 C.F.R. 90.16. Information on
these regions is posted on the FCC website at http://publicsafety.fcc.gov/pshs/public-safety-spectrum/800-
MHz/regional-planning.htm.
22 The Commission has delegated authority to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to manage requests
for extension of time beyond the 36-month deadline for licensees to complete rebanding. See Improving Public
Safety Communications in the 800 MHz Band, Third Memorandum Opinion and Order, WT Docket 02-55, 22 FCC
Rcd 17209, 17223 48 (2007).
23 See Association Response at 4.
24 See Waiver Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 6510-11 22.
25 47 C.F.R. 90.621(b).
26 See Waiver Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 6511 n.59.
27 See id. (quoting Amendment of Part 90 of the Commission's Rules, Second Report and Order and Second
Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making
, WP Docket No. 07-100, 25 FCC Rcd 2479, 2480-81 4 (2010)
(Narrowbanding Order) (quoting Frequency Coordination in the Private Land Mobile Radio Services, Report and
Order
, PR Docket No. 83-737, 103 F.C.C. 2d 1093, 1150 116 (1986))).
4

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DA 11-1604

applications that propose to reduce the station's emission bandwidth and do not seek any other changes to
the station's technical parameters.28 It seeks clarification of the scope of the exception for TETRA
modification applications.
10. The Commission did not intend for the frequency coordination exception for modification
applications to implement TETRA technology to be broader than the frequency coordination exception
for modification applications to implement narrowbanding technology. Consequently, we clarify that
frequency coordination is not required for TETRA modification applications only if the only proposed
change to the station's technical parameters is the emission bandwidth. For example, a change from
emission designator 20k0D1W to a TETRA emission designator of 21k0D1W would not require
coordination. As with narrowbanding modification applications, however, a proposal to change the
emission designator type requires frequency coordination.29
11. Station Identification. Motorola points out that Section 90.425 of the Commission's Rules
requires Part 90 stations operating in the 450-570 MHz band to transmit station identification by voice or
Morse Code.30 It notes that the Commission did not expressly waive this requirement, and seeks
confirmation that the requirement applies to TETRA systems operating pursuant to the Waiver Order.
We clarify that TETRA equipment operating pursuant to the Waiver Order, like any other Part 90
equipment operating in the 450-470 MHz band, is required to meet the requirements of Section 90.425.31
12. Certification of TETRA Equipment. As noted above, the Commission waived the rules to
permit low power TETRA equipment for which equipment approval previously had been granted to be
approved for full power by means of a permissive change, rather than a new application for equipment
authorization.32 As requested by Motorola, 33 we clarify that the waiver applies only to low power
TETRA devices that already had been certified. As stated in the Waiver Order, the waiver applies only to
"currently certified" TETRA devices, i.e., devices that were certified prior to the release of the Waiver
Order
.34 Therefore, low power equipment certified subsequent to the release of the Waiver Order may
not be approved for full power by means of a permissive change; instead, a new equipment authorization
application must be filed, based on the highest power to which the user can set the equipment.

VI.

ORDERING CLAUSE

13. Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED

pursuant to Sections 4(i), 302, and 303(e) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 302, 303(e), and Section 1.2 of the
Commission's Rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.2, that the Request for Clarification or, in the Alternative, for Limited
Reconsideration filed by Enterprise Wireless Alliance on May 26, 2011, the Request for Clarification
filed by Motorola Solutions, Inc. on May 26, 2011, the Request for Clarification filed by the National
Public Safety Telecommunications Council on May 26, 2011, and the Petition for Clarification and/or


28 See EWA Petition at 4-7; see also 47 C.F.R. 90.175(j)(20).
29 See Narrowbanding Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 2481-82 6-7.
30 See Motorola Petition at 3; see also 47 C.F.R. 90.425(a).
31 As Motorola points out, a proposal is pending to amend the rule to permit transmission of station identification in
digital format. See Motorola Petition at 3; see also Narrowbanding Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 2498 45.
32 Waiver Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 6511 23.
33 See Motorola Petition at 4.
34 See Waiver Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 6511 23.
5

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DA 11-1604

Declaratory Ruling filed by the Telecommunications Industry Association on May 26, 2011,

ARE
GRANTED

to the extent set forth above.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Rick Kaplan

Chief
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
James Arden Barnett, Jr.

Rear Admiral (Ret.)
Chief

Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
Julius P. Knapp
Chief

Office of Engineering and Technology
6

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