The Orange County, California Sheriff’s Department would like the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider its order that provided spectrum management flexibility in the 800MHz band. Orange County argues that authorizing early testing and deployment of wideband CDMA in the non-reconfigured portion of the 800MHz band has caused interference with their public safety communications.
CDMA refers to Code Division Multiple Access, a mobile phone technology that uses code on the receiver’s end to separate out the calls. A newer version called wideband CDMA or 3G GSM requires wider channels and carries more data, and that is the policy dilemma.
The FCC’s intent behind its Report and Order in Docket Nos. 11-110 and 12-64 was to allow wireless carriers to introduce more advanced wideband technologies on their licensed spectrum where there was little risk to public safety operations. The FCC issued the order in expectation that licensees introduce CDMA and LTE technologies while incurring additional compliance costs.
The introduction and evident demand for the new iPhone serves to validate the FCC’s policy position. The demand for new, innovative technology continues to grow. Commercial carriers must continue to seek out additional spectrum to manage consumer needs. Allowing flexibility in channelization allows wireless carriers to meet that ongoing goal.
In addition to policy, Orange County did not explicit show where current rules on interference were violated. For example, FCC rule 90.672 spells out specific requirements for a showing of unacceptable interference in the 800MHz band. Orange County fails to assert that the requirements under Rule 90.672 were met.
Also FCC rule 90.673 spells out a wireless carrier’s obligation to abate interference. Orange County has not clearly asserted that AT&T failed to abate the interference in a timely and practicable manner, although it gives Sprint credit for doing so. How much of a difference Sprint’s CDMA vs. AT&T’s GSM configurations play in abatement efforts is not discussed in Orange County’s complaint.
From a policy perspective, reconsidering the Report and Order only sets back efforts to meet the increasing consumer demand for spectrum. The FCC should require both AT&T and Orange County to work through the FCC’s resolution procedures or otherwise negotiate some solution to the problem short of amending the order.