An 800 MHz Overhaul... Long Overdue

October 26, 2022

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA) filed a Petition for Rulemaking (PRM) today requesting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to initiate a rulemaking proceeding to modify Part 90 Subpart S rules to eliminate the assignment of frequencies within the 809-816/854-861 MHz portion of the band (“800 MHz Band Segment”) to specific “pools” of eligible entities. (In the southeastern United States and Atlanta, Georgia, the applicable range is 809-813.5/854-858.5 MHz.)  Despite being subject to identical technical and operational rules, frequencies are assigned to either the Public Safety Pool, the Business/Industrial/Land Transportation (B/ILT) Pool, the Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) Category, or the General Category.  EWA recommended that the optimum policy would be to classify all frequencies as General Category and make them available to all qualified applicants. EWA also requested the FCC to terminate the rule reserving so-called “Sprint-Vacated” spectrum for use by certain classes of entities so those frequencies can be placed into productive use as demand dictates without further delay. 

Arguments supporting the Petition include:

  • It is consistent with the Commission’s general policy of promoting flexibility in its licensing processes and its preference for modifying outdated rules rather than relying on waiver relief. 
  • The Pool allocations were never intended as a permanent approach. The FCC stated (circa 1982) that it is “our predisposition now to have all of the barriers disappear after three years. However, this is a situation which will require monitoring between now and 1985.” That re-evaluation did not occur in 1985 or in any subsequent year. 
  • All licenses are subject to the same power, antenna height, out-of-band emission, and distance separation rules irrespective of whether the licensee is a Public Safety entity, a utility, an airline, or a commercial SMR operator. 
  •  The requirements for obtaining access to vacant “out-of-pool” frequencies are cumbersome and costly for applicants and require FCC staff resources to review. 
  • All categories of eligible entities operate on General Category frequencies. There is no evidence that this intermingling has resulted in operational incompatibility, interference, or any outcome that might warrant maintaining the Pools.
  • While inflexible Pool allocations presented issues prior to 800 MHz Rebanding, that process has muddled the Pools considerably. The scrambling of frequencies has proven that the concept that 800 MHz licensees are assigned frequencies based on compatibility of eligibility is no longer valid. 

“This Petition promotes common sense spectrum policy. We look forward to working with our private wireless colleagues and the FCC in streamlining the rules governing access to the 800 MHz band to make it more efficient for land mobile licensees whether business/industrial, public safety or SMR,” said EWA’s President and CEO, Robin Cohen.

About EWA

The Enterprise Wireless Alliance is the leading national trade association and advocate for business enterprises, private carrier operators, equipment manufacturers, and service providers that support the private wireless industry. A frequency advisory committee certified by the Federal Communications Commission, EWA provides its members and clients with consulting services, frequency coordination, license preparation, spectrum management and associated business intelligence services. EWA is the market leader in Business/Industrial Land Transportation frequency coordination services and assists a significant percentage of public safety customers with their spectrum requirements. Learn more at