FCC Proposes Making 900 MHz Band Available for Broadband

In advance of the Commission’s next Open Meeting on March 15, the FCC released a draft of its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting comment on a proposal to reconfigure the 896-901/935-940 MHz band to create a 3/3 MHz broadband segment (originally proposed by Enterprise Wireless Alliance and pdvWireless) between 897.5-900.5/936.5-939.5 MHz (Vol. XV, Issue 38). The band is currently allocated for narrowband (12.5 kHz) Private Land Mobile and Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) operations. The NPRM proposes that the 3 x 3 allocation be licensed on a geographic basis and seeks comment on the most suitable license size, indicating a county-wide allocation may be preferable. To transition incumbent users in the band, the NPRM proposes a series of voluntary negotiations: (1) a prospective broadband licensees must possess all 20 SMR area-wide licenses within a county, and (2) negotiate a frequency/system relocation plan with all incumbent licensees currently operating on frequencies within the 3 x 3 MHz band to the remaining 2 X 2 MHz that will continue to be available for narrowband (principally voice) operations. A series of alternative proposals are also set out. 

911 Location Accuracy Proposal

The FCC will consider whether to adopt new Wireless E9-1-1 Location Accuracy Requirements to improve the vertical accuracy of location services that will better equip first responders to identify wireless 911 callers’ locations in multi-story buildings (Vol. XV, Issue 38). In October 2018, the FCC issued a Public Notice requesting comment on the CTIA’s proposed five-meter vertical metric and acknowledged its preference for a three-meter standard to help first responders determine the floor from which a 911 call is placed within a multi-story building. FCC Chairman Pai spoke about the life-saving importance of robust wireless coverage at the 911 Goes to Washington gathering of the nation’s leading public safety and emergency operations experts. Accordingly, the Commission’s draft Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes a three-meter vertical accuracy standard for 80 percent of indoor wireless E9-1-1 calls. 

Maryland Introduces Small Cell Bill

In early February the Maryland General Assembly introduced House Bill (HB) 654 which seeks to make it easier for wireless companies to deploy small cells in Maryland (Vol. XVI, Issue 5). Currently, Maryland entrusts local governments with substantial authority to regulate wireless broadband deployments within their jurisdictions (Vol. XV, Issue 43). 

Business Data Services NPRM Deadlines Extended

Due to the recent government shutdown, the FCC extended the comment period on its Second Further Notice and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding business data services (BDS) from February 12 to March 11, 2019 (Vol. XV, Issue 49). To accommodate the new deadline, the FCC released a Public Notice on February 21, extending access to the secure BDS enclave from March 1 to March 22. The enclave contains highly confidential data filed in response to the Commission’s special access data collection that is part of the record in the price cap BDS proceedings. The data will be available until March 22 unless an interested party demonstrates the need for continuing access beyond such date.