FCC takes steps in anticipation of extensive auxiliary operation at upcoming conventions, inauguration

It looks like Louis Libin won’t be getting much time off this month, or next January either, for that matter.

That’s because he has been designated as the single point of contact for frequency coordination operations under Section 74.24 at (deep breath, please) the Republican National Convention, and the Democratic National Convention, and the Presidential Inauguration.

Coverage of confabs like the conventions and the inauguration generally entails extensive use of frequencies licensed for the broadcast auxiliary services (BAS) under Part 74 of the FCC’s rules. Use of all those licensed devices has got to be coordinated in any event. But coordination is further complicated by the fact that the BAS rules (Section 74.24, to be exact) permit the temporary, unlicensed use of BAS frequencies by eligible broadcasters for up to 720 hours per year. That gives rise to the possibility of scads of short-term unlicensed operations vying for scarce BAS spectrum with scads of licensed operations. Hence, the importance of identifying a single authority in charge of insuring that all unlicensed, short-term operations play nicely with one another and with their licensed confrères in the high-pressure, congested-spectrum environment of these three high-profile events.

To reduce the potential for chaos, the FCC has – at the request of ElectionWireless2017, an ad hoc frequency coordination group established by the broadcast networks – directed that all short-term auxiliary broadcast use under Part 74 in the designated areas, without exception, shall be coordinated in advance through Mr. Libin. (The local frequency coordinator will provide assistance and database access to all local and non-local folks licensed under Parts 74, 78 and 101 and authorized to share Part 74 spectrum in the designated areas for temporary fixed, mobile and portable operations.) The “designated areas” include, for terrestrial auxiliary broadcast frequency use, the area within 100 kilometer radius of the following locations during the dates indicated:

July 18-21, 2016:
The Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
(41-29-48N, 081-41-18W)

July 25-28, 2016:
The Wells Fargo Center and Philadelphia Convention Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
(39-54-05N, 075-10-19W and
39-57-18N, 075-09-35W, respectively)

January 18-21, 2017:
The U.S. Capitol and the White House, Washington, D.C.
(38-53-22N, 077-00-39W and
38-53-51N, 077-02-11W, respectively)

(All coordinates are in NAD83.) Note that, for mobile operation aboard aircraft, the mandatory coordination designation area extends out 150 kilometers from those points.

Anybody needing to get in touch with Mr. Libin for frequency coordination can reach him by phone or fax (at 516-374-6700) or by email (at RFrequest@broad-comm.com).

In addition to anticipated BAS congestion, unlicensed white space devices will also be vying for spectrum along with licensed wireless mics and other devices licensed in the Low Power Auxiliary Service (LPAS) at the upcoming conventions and inauguration. That means that licensed LPAS users should be sure to register their operations with one of the authorized white space databases to obtain the protection to which they are entitled. (The five currently-approved database administrators are: Spectrum Bridge, iconnetiv, Google, Keybridge Global and LS Telecom/Radiosoft.

And finally, the Commission has also decided to waive the distance separation requirement of Section 74.802 to “permit the use of low power auxiliary stations, not to exceed 2 watts of power, on channels allocated for TV broadcasting where the nearest operating station is located at least 40 kilometers from the event locations.” As a practical matter, it’s anticipated that low power facilities taking advantage of this waiver will operate exclusively indoors, most with power below 200 milliwatts. Moreover, ElectionWireless2017 reportedly confirmed that each potentially affected TV station supports the waiver and that, based on its analysis and measurements, the proposed low power operation will not adversely any of those stations.

Should you need to reach out to the FCC for any assistance in connection with use of auxiliary frequencies during any of these events, you should contact Stephen Buenzow, of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s Broadband Division (at (202) 418-2487) or Sean Yun, of the Media Bureau’s Engineering Division (at (202) 418-2193).