FCC Revises/Releases 700 MHz Service Rules

August 17, 2007
The FCC released the Second Report and Order FCC 07-132 (R&O) in the proceeding to establish service rules for 700 MHz services. The main provisions of the R&O were covered in a previous edition of RF Report based on data from an FCC news release.

One item not clearly defined in the news release was how the FCC would handle the open access requirement it applied to the largest single piece of commercial spectrum being auctioned in the proceeding, Block C.

In the R&O, the FCC offered more details:
Wireless service providers subject to this requirement will not be allowed to disable features or functionality in handsets where such action is not related to reasonable network management and protection, or compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. For example, providers may not “lock” handsets to prevent their transfer from one system to another. We also prohibit standards that block Wi-Fi access, MP3 playback ringtone capability, or other services that compete with wireless service providers’ own offerings. Standards for third-party applications or devices that are more stringent than those used by the provider itself would likewise be prohibited. In addition, C Block licensees cannot exclude applications or devices solely on the basis that such applications or devices would unreasonably increase bandwidth demands.
The system would not be completely open. The FCC said, “We emphasize that we are not requiring wireless service providers to allow the unrestricted use of any devices or applications on their networks. In particular, we are mindful of the risks network operators face in protecting against harmful devices and malicious software. Wireless service providers may continue to use their own certification standards and processes to approve use of devices and applications on their networks so long as those standards are confined to reasonable network management.”

It will be interesting to see how this develops. While I doubt it will have the same impact as the Carterphone decision, which opened up wired telephone circuits to consumer provided modems and began what could be termed the “Internet Age,” we might be surprised, especially if Google gets involved.

In other technical matters, the R&O set the maximum ERP/power density for base stations at 1 kW/MHz but allowed up to 2 kW/MHz in rural areas. Transmitters using less than 1 MHz bandwidth would be limited to 1 kW (2 kW in rural areas). Allowable ERP decreases as the height above average terrain increases.

For the more information, refer to the 312 page Second Report and Order FCC 07-132.

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