FCC Adopts Solution to Interference Problem
Faced by 800 MHz Public Safety Radio Systems
Washington, D.C. - July 8, 2004 – The Federal Communications Commission adopted a plan to resolve the ongoing and growing problem of interference to public safety radio systems operating in the 800 MHz band. In recognition of the critical need for the Nation’s first responders to have robust and highly reliable communications systems, the Commission based its decision on meeting three essential goals: first and foremost, resolving the interference problem to public safety radio systems; second, ensuring equitable treatment of all of the affected spectrum licensees with minimal disruption to users and the public alike; and third, as the Commission is the federal agency charged with administering the spectrum for the public good, exercising sound principles of spectrum management. The decision was unanimous.
Based on the extensive record developed regarding the public safety interference problem, the Commission concluded that the most effective solution is a Commission-derived plan, which is comprised of both long-term and short-term components. Over the long-term, the Commission adopted a new band plan for the 800 MHz band to address the root cause of the interference problem by separating generally incompatible technologies (a chart of the band plan is attached), with the costs of relocating 800 MHz incumbents to be paid by Nextel Communications, Inc. (Nextel). In the short-term, the Commission implemented objective technical standards – “Enhanced Best Practices” -- for defining “unacceptable interference” to public safety systems operating in the 800 MHz band and procedures detailing the responsibilities and expectations regarding abatement of such interference.
Since 1999, the Commission has received reports of interference to 800 MHz public safety communications systems from Commercial Mobile Radio Services (CMRS) providers operating systems on channels in close proximity to those utilized by public safety entities. Initially, the Commission’s approach to interference resolution was to urge the involved parties to make voluntary technical changes to prevent or reduce interference at particular sites. In 2000, the public safety and CMRS community formalized this approach as “Best Practices.” In recent years, however, 800 MHz public safety systems have encountered increasing amounts of interference.