New 800 MHz Band Plan for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

From Federal Register Extracts
Original publication date: March 3, 2011 

Summary: This document summarizes the Fourth Report and Order, which establishes a new 800 MHz band plan for the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). This action is necessary to meet the Commission’s goals to improve public safety communications in the 800 MHz band. The effect of this order ensures an orderly and efficient transition to the new 800 MHz band plan in the USVI.

Effective Date: Effective March 3, 2011.

For Further Information Contact: John Evanoff, Policy Division, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, (202) 418-0848.

Supplementary Information: This is a summary of the Fourth Report and Order, DA 11-315, released on February 18, 2011. The complete text of the Fourth Report and Order is available for inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. The document may also be purchased from the Commission’s duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, telephone (800) 378-3160 or (202) 863-2893, facsimile (202) 863-2898, or via e-mail at http://www.bcpiweb.com. It is also available on the Commission’s Web site at http://www.fcc.gov.

Synopsis of the Fourth Report and Order
In a July 2004 Report and Order, the Commission reconfigured the 800 MHz band to eliminate interference to public safety and other land mobile communication systems operating in the band, 69 FR 67823, November 22, 2004. In a Third Report and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, adopted in April 2010, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, on delegated authority sought comment on its tentative conclusion to adopt the same 800 MHz band plan in the USVI as it had adopted in Puerto Rico, 75 FR 35363, June 22, 2010. The Bureau received two comments in response.

Based on the record, the Bureau adopted its tentative conclusion because it best fulfills the Commission’s goal to separate–to the greatest extent possible–public safety and other non-cellular licensees from licensees that employ cellular technology in the 800 MHz band. The non-ESMR band plan adopted contains the following elements:

  • All NPSPAC channels will be relocated from the 821-824/866-869 MHz segment to channel assignments 15 MHz lower in frequency, i.e., to the 806-809/851-854 MHz band segment. Currently, there are no NPSPAC licensees in the USVI.
  • As with the Puerto Rico band plan, USVI incumbents in the 806-809/851-854 MHz band segment will be relocated to comparable spectrum in the Interleaved, Expansion, or ESMR Band, depending on their eligibility.
  • All licensees currently operating in the Interleaved Band will remain on their current frequencies, except those relocating to the ESMR band.
  • All non-ESMR incumbents that are not public safety licensees and that currently operate in the Expansion Band, as modified, will remain on their current frequencies.
  • Licensees in the modified Guard Band may, at their option, relocate to the Interleaved or Expansion Band.
  • All licensees that currently operate between 817-821/862-866 MHz and are not eligible to remain in the ESMR band will be relocated to the 809-816.5/854-861.5 MHz band segment, which includes the Interleaved and Expansion Bands of the USVI Band Plan.

The ESMR Band in the USVI is identical to the U.S. non-border 817-824/862-869 MHz ESMR band segment. Because not all ESMR and ESMR-eligible licensees in USVI may be accommodated within that ESMR Band segment, the Bureau apportioned the USVI ESMR Band and directed the TA to use the following procedure:

  • The TA will attempt to assign replacement channels to the EA-based non-Sprint ESMR and ESMR-eligible licensees on a 1:1 basis relative to their existing USVI holdings. If ESMR channels remain after this assignment, the TA shall assign them to Sprint.
  • If, however, sufficient ESMR channels are not available to assign them on a 1:1 basis to all non-Sprint ESMR and ESMR-eligible licensees electing to relocate to the ESMR band, then the number of Sprint ESMR channels will be reduced to the extent necessary to assign channels to the non-Sprint licensees on a 1:1 basis.
  • If sufficient ESMR channels are not available following the apportionment, supra, then the holdings of all ESMR and ESMR-eligible licensees electing to relocate to the ESMR band will be reduced pro rata such that all such licensees are accommodated in the band.

The Bureau adopted a single 90-day mandatory negotiation period for the remaining incumbent licensees that must be returned from the 816.5-821/861.5-866 MHz portion of the band. Thereafter, if Sprint and an incumbent licensee have not negotiated a Frequency Reconfiguration Agreement with Sprint, they must enter mandatory TA-sponsored mediation. The Bureau also established a 12-month transition period to complete rebanding in USVI. The transition period will start on March 21, 2011 and end on March 20, 2012.

The Bureau also extended the filing freeze on new applications in the USVI region until thirty working days after the date for completion of mandatory negotiations. However, the freeze does not apply to applications for modification of license that do not change an 800 MHz frequency or expand an 800 MHz station’s existing coverage area (e.g., administrative updates), assignments/transfers, or renewal-only applications. In addition, licensees in the USVI region may expand their facilities or add channels during the freeze, but only pursuant to Special Temporary Authorization (STA). Requests for STA must be accompanied by a demonstration that, without the new or expanded facilities, there would be a specific, material and serious adverse effect on the safety of life or property.

The Bureau also envisioned band reconfiguration in USVI will occur in the following stages, consistent with the Puerto Rico implementation plan:

Stage 1

  • Clear non-Sprint incumbent licensees from Channels 1-120. Defer assigning replacement spectrum for Preferred Acquisitions, Inc. (PAI) EA licenses.

Stage 2

  • Relocate EA and site-based ESMR licensees (except PAI) from the Interleaved channels to the ESMR band.
  • Relocate high-site incumbents from the ESMR band to the cleared Interleaved channels.
  • Relocate EA/ESMR licensees from the Guard Band to the cleared ESMR channels.

Stage 3 (If Necessary)

  • Relocate PAI’s EA and site-based channels to the ESMR band.
  • If the ESMR band cannot accommodate all ESMR band licensees, then:
  • Relieve the shortfall by redesignating Sprint channels for use by other licensees, and, if necessary,
  • Reduce the number of all licensees’ channels pro rata in order to accommodate all licensees within the ESMR band.

Procedural Matters
Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification

The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA) requires that a regulatory flexibility analysis be prepared for rulemaking proceedings, unless the agency certifies that “the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.” The RFA generally defines “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act. A small business concern is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA). We certify that the rule changes and actions in this Fourth Report and Order will have no significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

In this Fourth Report and Order, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, on delegated authority, establishes a revised 800 MHz band plan for the USVI in order to accomplish the Commission’s goals for band reconfiguration. The band plan is identical to the band plan that the Commission previously adopted in this proceeding with one exception–the USVI band plan, identical to the Puerto Rico band plan, includes a slightly larger Expansion Band and a slightly smaller Guard Band. The USVI Expansion and Guard Bands we establish will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small businesses, and our aim is to provide interference protection to non-ESMR licensees. Furthermore, although ESMR licensees and ESMR-eligible licensees may be subject to a pro rata apportionment of spectrum, the number of such entities is not substantial, their operating capacity would not be significantly reduced, and the economic effect on their operations would not be significant. Therefore, we certify that the requirements of this Fourth Report and Order will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis
This document does not contain new or modified information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13. Therefore it does not contain any new or modified “information burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees,” pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198.

Congressional Review Act
The Commission will send a copy of this Fourth Report and Order in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office, pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.

Ordering Clauses
–This is a summary of a Federal Register article originally published on the page number listed below–

Final rule.
CFR Part: “47 CFR Part 90″
Citation: “76 FR 11681″
Document Number: “WT Docket No. 02-55; DA 11-315″
Federal Register Page Number: “11681″
“Rules and Regulations”

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