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FCC Chief Strives to Assure Mobile Communications Users Get More for Less.

Land-mobile communications is an important tool used to make business more efficient, more effective and, hopefully, more profitable. For others, land-mobile communications is itself a business--a livelihood. My primary objective, as the person in the FCC responsible for private lnd-mobile communications, has been to do as much as possible to assure that mobile communications users can obtain better and less expensive mobile communication.

Achieving this objective has necessitated an ongoing review of applicable regulations. Some may feel we keep changing our rules simply for the sake of change . . . that is not so. I believe rules must be changed on an ongoing basis because the industry being regulated is so dynamic and fast changing. Every time the FCC adopts rules based on users' comments, the users develop new schemes that were not contemplated in our rules.

While the profit motive per se does not apply to the FCC, I think an analogy can be drawn. Unless the FCC views its regulatory structure as a living body of rules, and is willing to change them as changes occur in communications technology and in the marketplace in general, the needs of the land-mobile user and provider will likely outstrip the ability of the commission to assure that these needs are met. Quite simply, if the rules don't change, improvements in mobile communications technology and delivery systems will either be slowed down or stopped entirely. Clearly opposite of the results the commission and I want.

Let me highlight some recent regulatory changes that I believe are major steps forward for private land-mobile communications.

The first change is the commission's proposed allocation of the 900 MHz landmobile reserve spectrum. The commission was faced with trying to develop an allocation plan for the reserve spectrum above 800 MHz, the so-called 900 MHz reserve. We had 41 MHz of supply and over 80 MHz of demand from a wide variety of potential mobile communication consumers.

My staff and I worked very hard to assure the needs of private radio users would be met from the very limited supply of spectrum. Seven items were adopted last November to make up a workable allocation plan. Of the 41 MHz available, only 32 MHz was suitable for land-mobile use. The commission ultimately proposed a 12 MHz share for private land-mobile, 12 for cellular and eights for land-mobile satellite. The commission struggled with some hard choices, like having to say no to several proposals, such as air-to-ground, cordless telephones and several others. These were desirable but less critical uses of spectrum. It was strictly a matter of priorities.

Spectrum Won't Meet Demand

As it is, the 12 MHz proposed for private land-mobile isn't nearly enough to meet long-term demand in the major cities. It will provide only limited relief. Users have to be willing to adopt newer, more efficient technologies. The proposal calls fror significantly narrower bandwidths and reduced separation between dpulex channel pairs.

I also want to announce that all pending SMR applications that had been tied up in the commission's lottery proceeding were resolved and authorizations were issued to the wining applicants.

I believe no one is satisfied with the lottery system. As hard as we try we are unable to weed out the speculators who are merely taking a ticket in the lottery.

Earlier this year we adopted new rules in part 94 to allow private carriers in the operational-fixed microwave service. Not only will we authorized entrepreneurs to set up microwave systems for hire, but we will also permit existing OFS licensees to sell their excess capacity. In both cases, end users must be eligible under Part 94.

More Spectrum Efficiency

The commission took a major step toward encouraging more spectrum efficient technology in the 150 MHz band. Recognizing the utility in the private land-mobile services of narrowband technology, the commission amended its rules to permit 5 kHz narrowband channels to be established between existing FM channel assignments. We provided equivalent protection from these narrowband channels to existing FM stations. Furthermore, we required frequency coordination of all narrowband channels to ensure sufficient geographic separation between stations to prevent interference.

I believe that deregulations has, and will continue to benefit the land-mobile industry by allowing the person closest to the communications needs, the user, to make decisions about day-to-day operatons. In its first meeting this year, the commission took action in Docket 84-109 that relaxed restrictions on the types of communications permitted on private radio systems. The proceeding was commonly referred to as "Perm Comm", short for permissible communications.

Comments on Proposal Bring Change

We had originally proposed to relax these rules for all private land-mobile licensees. In response to substantial comments against our proposal, the decision affects only those frequencies assigned on an exclusive basis, including SMR systems.

Although I understand the concerns expressed by some commenters in this proceeding that the congestion that exists, especially in major urban areas, would be exacerbated by Perm Comm, I believe it is preferable to approach the congestion problem by attempting to secure additional spectrum allocations rather than by imposing operational restrictions that artificially limit demand.

By getting out of the business of making many of the day-to-day operational decisions that can better be handled by the land-mobile users, we at the commission optimize our limited resources and direct our attention to more urgent tasks such as processing applications and making additional land-mobile spectrum available. Some call this deregulation, others refer to it as the marketplace.
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Author:Foosaner, R.
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:transcript
Date:Jun 1, 1985
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