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220 MHz Band Terminology

This section explains some of the terminology used in the 220 MHz services.

Phase I and Phase II

220 MHz licenses initially authorized from applications filed on or before May 24, 1991 are referred to as "Phase I" licenses. Licenses initially authorized from applications received after May 24, 1991 are referred to as "Phase II" licenses. Phase I licenses have radio service codes QT, QD, QO, and NC; Auctioned (Phase II) licenses have the radio service code QA, and Public Safety licenses have the radio service code QM (Phase I and Phase II).

Radio Service Codes

  • QT: Phase I Trunked service. Licenses were authorized on channels originally for trunked operations but later made available for other types of operations (there are 20 groups with 5 channels per group interleaved throughout the band). There are no new QT licenses being issued beyond existing incumbent service contours.
  • QD: Phase I Data service. Licenses were authorized on a contiguous group of channels originally for data operations but later made available for other types of operations. There are no new QD licenses being issued beyond existing incumbent service contours. This service occupies channels 186 through 195.
  • QO: Phase I Other service. Licenses were authorized on a contiguous group of “other” channels. There are no new QO licenses being issued beyond existing incumbent service contours. This service occupies channels 171 through 180.
  • QM: Public Safety licenses are issued on channels 161 through 170 and channels 181 through 185. The QM radio service has stations from Phase I and Phase II.
  • NC: Phase I Nationwide Commercial service. Four licenses were issued in groups of five channels per license. This service occupies channels 21 through 25, 26 through 30, 151 through 155, and 156 through 160. All four licenses that were available in this service have been assigned. Licensees in this service may apply for new licenses to add specific sites but are no longer required to license their sites in this “site specific” manner (see Memorandum Opinion and Order, FCC 99-196)
  • QA: Phase II auctioned service. 155 channel pairs are allocated to this radio service. There is one nationwide area, 175 basic economic areas, and 6 regional areas. 30 of the 155 channel pairs are available for nationwide use, 50 of the 155 channel pairs are available for basic economic area use, and 75 of the 155 channel pairs are available for regional use. Therefore, in total, there are 3 nationwide licenses with 10 channel pair per license, 875 basic economic area licenses with 10 channel pair per license, and 30 regional area licenses with 15 channel pair per license for a total of 908 licenses.

Geographic Area Names

Fundamental geographical areas in Part 90 are referred to as Economic Areas (EAs). These same areas are also referred to as Basic Economic Areas (BEAs) for Auctions and Licensing purposes.

Regional groupings of fundamental geographic areas in Part 90 are referred to as Regional Area Groupings (REAGs). These same areas are also referred to as Economic Area Groupings (EAGs) for Auctions and Licensing purposes.
A nationwide geographical area is referred to as Nationwide in Part 90. The same geographic area is referred to as Nationwide or NWA for Auctions and licensing purposes.
 

Auctions History in the 220 MHz Band

As of the last update to this web site there have been four auctions of the 220 MHz band. There is additional information regarding auctions at the FCC Auctions Home Page. The four 220 MHz auctions are listed below:

  • On October 22, 1998, the Federal Communications Commission completed the auction of 908 licenses for the Phase II 220 MHz Service, raising (in net high bids) a total of $21,650,301 for the U.S. Treasury (Auction 18).
  • On June 30, 1999, the Federal Communications Commission completed the auction of 225 Phase II 220 MHz service licenses, raising (in net high bids) a total of $1,924,950 for the U.S. Treasury (Auction 24).
  • On January 17, 2002, the FCC completed the auction of 4 Phase II 220 MHz licenses in the Multi Radio Service auction, raising (in net high bids) a total of $182,700 for the US Treasury (Auction 43).
  • On June 26, 2007, the FCC completed the auction of 94 Phase II 220 MHz service licenses, raising (in net high bids) a total of $185,416 for the U.S. Treasury (Auction 72).

Data

Band Plan

There is a total of 2 MHz of spectrum in the 220 MHz services band. The spectrum is divided into 200 channel pairs, each channel’s center frequency is spaced 5 KHz apart, with "mobile side" frequencies 1 MHz higher than the corresponding “base side” frequencies. 10 channel pairs are available exclusively for Government operations and 15 channel pairs are available exclusively for Public Safety. Accordingly, there are a total of 175 channel pairs available for use by commercial, business, or other eligible entities (see Rule 90.703).
 
In Phase I, the channels were organized functionally into radio service groups: QT, NC, QO, QD, and QM. In the QT radio service, channels were initially required to be trunked. To account for trunked radio technologies, the channels for each trunked radio license maintained a separation of 150 KHz (e.g., if a trunked radio license had five channels, the mobile side frequency for the first channel would be 150 KHz away from mobile side frequency for the second channel and so on, similarly the base side frequencies would have a corresponding separation). These trunked channels were assigned in groups of 5 channel pairs per license (trunked channel groups). The non-trunked channel pairs (NC, QO, QD, and QM) were divided so that they would be licensed in contiguous channel groups. In total for the 220-222 MHz band, there are 100 QT channel pairs, 20 Nationwide Commercial (NC) channel pairs, 10 Other (QO) channel pairs, 15 Data (QD) channel pairs, and 15 Public Safety (QM) channel pairs. 10 channels are for Government Nationwide use and 30 channels did not become available until Phase II.
 
In Phase II, QT radio service trunked channel groups or contiguous single channel pairs were combined to create channel blocks for auction. Each block, A through E, includes 10 channel pairs (100 KHz) for each Economic License (EA) license area. Each block, F through J, includes 15 channel pairs (150 KHz) for each Regional Economic Area Group (REAG) license area. And each block, K through M, includes 10 channel pairs (100 KHz) for each nationwide license.
All of the channel groupings are depicted in 220 MHz Auction Band Plan (pdf). Channel assignments for each channel block are shown in Rule 90.721.

Service Areas

Incumbent Service Areas
A Phase I licensee's service area is defined by the predicted 38 dBu service contour of its authorized base station or fixed station transmitting on frequencies in the 220-221 MHz band at its initially authorized location, or if the station was modified as described in Rule 90.751, at its modified location. The Phase I licensee's predicted 38 dBu service contour is calculated using the F(50,50) field strength chart for Channels 7-13 in Rule 73.699 (Fig. 10), with a 9 dB correction factor for antenna height differential, and is based on the authorized effective radiated power (ERP) and antenna height-above-average-terrain of the licensee's base station or fixed station.
 
Phase I operating areas are overlaid by Phase II geographic areas. Phase II licensees must protect site-licensed stations as outlined in Rule 90.763.
 
Geographical Service Areas
In March 1997, the Commission restructured the licensing framework that governs the 220 MHz Service. Site-specific licensing, used in the Phase I, was replaced with a geographic-based system in Phase II. Phase II geographic area licensees are permitted to operate within the geographic limits of their EA, REAG, or NWA areas that are identified by their authorization, but they must protect Phase I stations as described in Rule 90.763.
 
The geographic areas for the licenses were created based upon Economic Areas (EAs), developed by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Commission developed larger, regional areas called Economic Area Groupings (EAGs). EAGs include groupings of EAs and encompass the sum total of all EAs. Nationwide licenses include all of the EAGs. Three Nationwide licenses (NWA), 30 regional licenses (EAG), and 875 EA licenses were offered in Phase II. A map (pdf) of 220 MHz geographical areas may be found at the Auction-Data-Map site. The geographic areas are defined in Rule 90.7.

Licensing

Licenses in this band, whether they were initially issued as a result of lottery or auction, are maintained through our Universal Licensing System (ULS). New licenses are issued only via auction for all 220 MHz spectrum except Public Safety or Government only spectrum.

Obtaining Spectrum

There are a total of 908 geographical area licenses (QA radio service). Most of these licenses have been successfully auctioned in auctions 18, 24, 43, and 72. The Commission may hold additional auctions in the future for QA licenses that revert back to the FCC. Information about such auctions may be obtained at the FCC Auctions website.
 
Also, there are additional ways to gain access to this spectrum:
  1. You may lease spectrum by entering into a contract with a 220 MHz Band Manager.
  2. A Licensee may sell all or part of its license to you, subject to FCC approval. (Assignment or Partial Assignment).
  3. You may acquire a 220 MHz licensee’s company, including its FCC license, subject to FCC approval. (Transfer of Control).
Methods 2 and 3 require an application via the ULS and subsequent approval of the FCC.
Method for Obtaining Spectrum CFR Rule Part
220 MHz Band Manager
Leasing contract. See Public Notice DA 02-2717 (pdf)
1.9001 to 1.9080
Assignment of Authorization
Sale of an entire license.
1.948
Partition
Sale of part of a license based on a geographic area.
90.1019
Disaggregation
Sale of part of a license’s spectrum.
90.1019
Partition & Disaggregation
A combination of the sale of a part of a license based on geographic area containing only a part of a license’s spectrum.
90.1019
Transfer of Control
Acquisition of a company and its assets, including its licenses.
1.948
 

Operations

Frequencies in the 220 - 222 MHz band are available for land mobile or fixed use for both Government and non-Government operations as described in Rule 90.733. This rule section also allows licensees (except Public Safety licensees) to combine any number of their authorized, contiguous channels to form channels wider than 5 KHz. Permissible operations include the following:
  • One-way or two-way paging operations on a primary basis by all non-Government Phase II licensees.
  • Fixed operations on a primary basis by all non-Government Phase II licensees and all Government licensees.
  • One-way or two-way paging or fixed operations on a primary basis by all non-Government Phase I licensees.
Rules governing these bands are found in Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 90, Subpart T.Rule 90.721.

Phase I Construction Requirements

Phase I non-nationwide licensees are required to complete construction and place their systems into operation within 12 months of initial license grant in accordance with Rule 90.725.
 
Phase I non-nationwide licensees that modified their stations pursuant to Rule 90.753 are required to construct their stations on or before August 15, 1996 or within 12 months of the initial grant date of their modification application in accordance with Rule 90.757.
 
Phase I Nationwide licensees are required to follow a schedule for construction and file benchmark reports at 2, 4, 6, and 10 years after initial license grant. The Construction requirements for Phase I Nationwide licenses are provided in Rule 90.725.

Phase II Construction Requirements

Phase II economic area (EA) or regional area (REAG) licensees are required to provide coverage to 1/3 of the population of their EA or REAG within 5 years of the issuance of their initial license and 2/3 of the population of their EA or REAG within 10 years of the issuance of their initial license in accordance with Rule 90.767. Alternatively a Phase II EA or REAG licensee may demonstrate substantial service at their 5 and 10 year benchmarks also in accordance with Rule 90.767.
 
Phase II nationwide (NWA) licensees are required to provide coverage to a composite area of at least 750,000 square kilometers or 37.5 percent of the population of the US within 5 years of the issuance of its initial license and coverage to a composite area of at least 1,500,000 square kilometers or 75 percent of the US population within 10 years of the issuance of its initial license in accordance with Rule 90.769. Alternatively a Phase II NWA licensee may demonstrate substantial service at its 5 and 10 year benchmarks also in accordance with Rule 90.769.

Deconstruction or Discontinuance of Station Operations

A station that is not operational for one year or more is considered to have been permanently discontinued as described in Rule 90.157.

 

Bureau/Office: 

Updated: 
Thursday, March 23, 2017