Federal Communications Commission
WASHINGTON, DC 20554
In the Matter of )
Implementation of Sections 309(j) and )
337 of the Communications Act of ) WT Docket No. 99-87
1934 as Amended )
Promotion of Spectrum Efficient )
Technologies on Certain Part 90 )
Establishment of Public Service )
Radio Pool in the Private Mobile ) RM-9332
Frequencies Below 800 MHz )
AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE
The American Petroleum Institute (?API?), by its attorneys, pursuant to Section 1.415 of
the Rules and Regulations of the Federal Communications Commission (?Commission?),
respectfully submits the following Comments in response to the Commission?s Further Notice of
Proposed Rule Making (?Further Notice?) in the above-referenced proceeding.
Notice requests comment on various proposals to bring about a more rapid transition to
narrowband technology in the Private Land Mobile Radio Service (?PLMRS?) bands.
66 Fed. Reg. 86 (2001).
I. PRELIMINARY STATEMENT
1. API is a national trade association representing approximately 350 companies
involved in all phases of the petroleum and natural gas industries, including exploration,
production, refining, marketing and transportation of petroleum, petroleum products and natural
gas. The API Telecommunications Committee is one of the standing committees of the
organization's Information Systems Committee. The Telecommunications Committee evaluates
and develops responses to state and federal proposals affecting telecommunications facilities
used in the petroleum and natural gas industries.
2. API's Telecommunications Committee is supported and sustained by licensees
that are authorized by the Commission to operate, among other telecommunications systems,
facilities in the PLMRS. Many of these systems employ assignments from the bands below 50
MHz, 150-173 MHz, 450-470 MHz, 470-512 MHz, and 806-824/851-869 MHz (?800 MHz?).
API's members utilize these systems, for example, to support the search for and production of oil
and natural gas, to ensure the safe pipeline transmission of natural gas, crude oil and refined
petroleum products, to process and refine these energy sources and to facilitate their ultimate
delivery to industrial, commercial and residential customers. Due to the importance of these
PLMRS systems to the operations of its members, API has participated in all of the
Commission's major rule making proceedings addressing the use of the spectrum in these bands,
including all phases of the Commission?s ?refarming? proceeding
and the earlier stages of this
Replacement of Part 90 by Part 88 to Revise the Private Land Mobile Radio Services and
Modify the Policies Governing Them and Examination of Exclusivity and Frequency
Assignment Policies of the Private Land Mobile Services, PR Docket No. 92-235.
3. As discussed in the Further Notice, the Commission decided in its ?refarming?
proceeding to encourage the transition to narrowband equipment in the PLMRS bands below
512 MHz through the equipment type certification process, rather than mandating strict
manufacturing and licensing requirements.
AMTA and others, however, have advocated a more
stringent approach because they believe that the transition to narrowbanding is not occurring as
rapidly as the Commission had intended. Accordingly, the Commission has sought comment on
whether additional measures are needed, and it tentatively has proposed to prohibit the
manufacture or importation by certain dates of equipment that does not meet specific efficiency
The Commission also asked in its Further Notice whether the rules adopted in the
800 MHz band for the conversion of licenses from private to commercial status should be
extended to the 900 MHz band.
A. Any Rule Changes Adopted in this Proceeding Should be Limited to the Bands
Below 800 MHz
4. AMTA?s proposals regarding a mandatory transition to narrowband technology
address all of the non-public safety PLMRS bands between 222 MHz and 896 MHz.
Commission?s ?refarming? proceeding, however, dealt only with the bands below 512 MHz, and
no procedures have as yet been adopted to encourage narrowbanding in the 800 MHz band.
Accordingly, API presumes that the Commission, in tentatively concluding that additional
Further Notice at ¶ 140.
See Further Notice at ¶ 142.
Further Notice at ¶ 144.
See Further Notice at ¶ 137.
measures are needed to promote a more rapid transition to narrowband technology, was referring
only to the ?refarmed? bands below 512 MHz.
5. With respect to the 800 MHz band, API believes that further proceedings and/or
opportunities for comment are needed before any rule changes to promote narrowbanding are
adopted. As the Commission no doubt is aware, PLMRS systems operating in the 800 MHz
band are subject to a different regulatory structure than PLMRS systems operating in the bands
below 800 MHz. Thus, the unique characteristics of this band and its licensees should be
considered, separate and independent from the bands below 800 MHz and any policies that may
be applied thereto.
6. API also notes that AMTA simply has assumed -- without providing any
justification -- that the 25 kHz bandwidth channels in the 800 MHz band are spectrally
inefficient. In fact, many private licensees, including critical infrastructure entities such as
petroleum companies, pipelines, and utilities, rely heavily for both day-to-day and emergency
communications upon 800 MHz systems that cannot readily be adapted to narrowband
technologies. Further, because many of these systems are newer than their counterparts below
800 MHz, a requirement that they be replaced in the near term would be likely to impose
substantial and unwarranted financial burdens on many licensees. In light of the foregoing, API
strongly urges the Commission to explore more fully the necessity and feasibility of adopting
any date certain narrowbanding requirements in the 800 MHz band.
B. In the Bands Below 512 MHz, the Benefits of Narrowbanding Should Continue to be
Balanced Against the Potential Hardships It May Impose on Existing Licensees
7. API continues to believe that the timetable proposed by AMTA for mandatory
narrowbanding is unduly harsh. If the Commission does decide to impose date certain deadlines
for conversion to narrowband equipment, API proposes that the deadlines be set as (1)
conversion to 12.5 kHz equipment within five years of the effective date of the order; and (2)
conversion to 6.25 kHz equipment within fifteen years from the effective date of the order in the
top 50 markets. While API supports the migration to narrowband equipment, its members are
constrained by the current unavailability of 6.25 kHz equipment. If licensees are forced to
employ 12.5 kHz channel bandwidth equipment within a deadline that occurs before the
availability of 6.25 kHz equipment, licensees would be forced to purchase systems which would
quickly become obsolete. The timetable proposed by AMTA would require a transition to
narrowband equipment in the top 50 markets by December 31, 2003 ? one year before the
January 1, 2005 date restricting the certification of new equipment to systems operating on 6.25
kHz or narrower channel bandwidth.
While API supports the date certain deadline approach to
help licensees plan and budget for the acquisition of spectrum-efficient equipment, it shares the
Commission?s concern that a forced migration would place unduly harsh burdens on licensees.
To require a conversion to 12.5 kHz channel bandwidth before the availability of 6.25 kHz
equipment would require licensees to ?scrap? newly purchased systems before these systems
need to be replaced.
Further Notice at ¶ 138. See also 47 C.F.R. § 90.203(j)(4).
Further Notice at ¶ 142.
8. As API and others previously have noted, AMTA?s members (i.e., operators of
Specialized Mobile Radio systems) are only beginning to become users of the 450-512 MHz
band, while utilities, pipelines and other private land mobile radio operators have invested
heavily in communications systems in this band. Therefore, adoption of AMTA?s proposal
would have minimal impact on commercial service providers, who stand to gain additional
channel assignments and customers as PLMRS users effectively are forced off of their channels.
As discussed above, incumbent operators of large private, internal use systems would face
serious financial hardships, as they would be forced to change out systems that have not reached
the end of their useful lives, with no corresponding benefits for themselves.
9. API further believes that any date certain deadlines or requirements adopted by
the Commission should -- as in AMTA?s proposal -- differentiate between larger and smaller
markets. As to the specific dates that would be appropriate, API again strongly urges the
Commission to consider allowing more time for a transition than that advocated by AMTA:
perhaps five years from the effective date of the order for markets 1-50 and eight years from the
effective date of the order for markets 51-100. This type of schedule is suggested in recognition
of the fact that congestion is generally less severe in smaller markets. Moreover, such a
timetable would better enable licensees to become familiar with the new requirements and, if
necessary, adjust their conversion plans accordingly.
C. Commercial Operations Should Not be Permitted on 900 MHz Industrial/Land
Transportation and Business Channels
10. API does not believe that any need has been demonstrated for allowing PLMRS
channels in the 900 MHz band to be converted or transferred for commercial use. API opposed
the adoption of such conversion and transfer rules in the 800 MHz band on the grounds that
private land mobile spectrum has become increasingly scarce in many areas. The same
reasoning applies here. If the Commission continues to allow commercial incursion into the
PLMRS pools, it will not be long before private applicants have so few options for new and
expanded systems that they will be seriously hampered in their ability to meet critical mobile
radio communication requirements. Faced with this situation, entities such as oil and gas
pipeline operators would find it increasingly difficult to ensure the safe pipeline transmission of
natural gas, crude oil and refined petroleum products, to process and refine these energy sources
and to facilitate their ultimate delivery to industrial, commercial and residential customers. API
therefore urges the Commission to refrain from reallocating any additional critical and scarce
spectrum from private users. In the event that the Commission nonetheless moves forward with
such rule changes in the 900 MHz band, API strongly supports the Commission?s contemplated
adoption of the various safeguards enacted with respect to the 800 MHz band in order to prevent
license trafficking (e.g., a holding period on the transfer or conversion of new licenses).
11. While API agrees that the procedures adopted in the ?refarming? proceeding may
not be fostering as rapid a transition to narrowband technology as the Commission and licensees
had anticipated, API urges the Commission to continue to exercise caution in this area and to
consider the hardships that may be imposed on incumbent systems if the balance were to be
shifted too dramatically in the other direction. API also asks that any changes aimed to promote
or require narrowbanding in the 800 MHz band be considered independently from any changes
See Further Notice at ¶ 144.
with regard to the ?refarmed? bands and following the development of a more complete record
on this issue. Finally, API opposes the adoption of rule amendments that would permit PLMRS
licensees in the 900 MHz band to convert or transfer their licenses for commercial use.
WHEREFORE, THE PREMISES CONSIDERED, the American Petroleum Institute
respectfully submits the foregoing Comments and urges the Federal Communications
Commission to act in a manner consistent with the views expressed herein.
THE AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE
By: /s/ Wayne V. Black
Wayne V. Black
Nicole B. Donath
Katherine C. Lucas
Keller and Heckman LLP
1001 G Street, NW, Suite 500 West
Washington, D.C. 20001
Dated: March 5, 2001