FCC Decides Not to Adopt New Rules Affecting 902-928 MHz Band
The FCC has terminated a longstanding proceeding involving the 902-928 MHz (33 centimeter) band. In 2006, the FCC, in WT Docket 06-49, proposed rule changes to encourage development of the Multilateration Location Monitoring Service (M-LMS) — a terrestrial service for location of objects and tracking. Amateur Radio is secondary in the band to federal radiolocation systems, industrial, scientific and medical devices, federal fixed and mobile systems, and the M-LMS. This week, the FCC, with little fanfare, concluded that proceeding.
“Based on the record before us, and on recent developments pertaining to M-LMS operations in the 902-928 MHz band, we conclude that the various proposals for wholesale revisions of the applicable rules do not merit further consideration at this time,” the FCC said.
Commenting on the 2006 proposal, the ARRL expressed concern about increasing noise levels in the band. “This ‘kitchen sink’ of allocations is acceptable from ARRL’s perspective, provided that the noise floor is regulated, in terms of aggregate noise levels from unlicensed devices,” the League said. “The high power levels permitted in this band in particular bear careful watching, lest the allocated radio services, including federal systems, suffer decreased utility of the band.”
After the FCC last June gave consent to Progeny LMS to begin commercial operation of its M-LMS in the upper portion of the 902-928 MHz band, the ARRL worried that a portion of the band could become less useful to radio amateurs in urban areas. “Progeny is deploying a wide-area positioning system to provide more precise location services in areas where Global Positioning System (GPS) and other existing services may not work effectively, particularly indoors and in urban canyons,” the FCC explained at the time. Progeny’s location service is designed to operate on approximately 4 megahertz — about one-half of the M-LMS portions of the band between 919.750 and 927.750 MHz — where Progeny holds licenses.
While M-LMS operations, at least on paper, have a higher priority than unlicensed Part 15 devices on the band, Progeny had to demonstrate through field testing that its network would not cause “unacceptable levels of interference” to such Part 15 devices as cordless telephones and baby monitors. This was a result of an FCC policy to promote “co-existence” in the band, while not elevating Part 15 devices to co-equal status with M-LMS systems.
In his June 2012 “It Seems to Us…“ editorial in QST, ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, pointed out that effectively setting unlicensed services such as Part 15 at a higher priority than licensed services “is the reverse of the usual situation in which Part 15 devices are at the bottom of the pecking order.” Federal (military) radiolocation and ISM Part 18 devices are at the top of the 902-928 MHz food chain. Sumner predicted that operations such as Progeny’s “will pose some new challenges for amateurs in a band that is already impacted by other users.”
The latest FCC action will not affect Progeny’s M-LMS deployment. In terminating the 2006 proceeding, the Commission said it had concluded that Progeny could commence commercial M-LMS operations “within the framework that the Commission initially had established to promote the co-existence of M-LMS operations and unlicensed operations in the band.”