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FCC Proposes Tower Rule Modifications

On Tuesday the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 10-53) [PDF] streamlining and revision Parts 1 and 17 of FCC rules governing the construction, marking and lighting of antenna structures.

The proposed revisions remove out-dated references to FAA Advisory Circulars and inconsistencies with FAA rules.

Of particular concern is an FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would expand notification requirements to include construction of new facilities that operate on specified frequency bands in addition to those using towers above a certain height. The FCC asks for comment on whether the FCC should modify its rules if the FAA adopts these proposed rules.

The FCC NPRM notes "one such significant issue is whether we should continue to require all instances of 'Notice of Proposed Construction or Alteration' required by the FAA to result in an antenna structure registration or amendment of antenna structure registration with the Commission."

Modified rules would also address enforcement actions in the event of tower light failure, tower inspection requirements, and use of NOC central tower monitoring technologies. The FCC asked for comments on whether its rules should include timeframes for replacing or repairing extinguished lights, notwithstanding the issues of a NOTAM, and, if so, what those time frames should be.

Other possible changes affect the way the FCC checks tower painting, station record retention time, and clarifying both when a structure becomes an "antenna structure" and when it ceases to be an "antenna structure" under the rules. Comment is requested on the location of signs with the antenna structure registration (ASR) number.

If you are responsible for FCC registered towers, I'd recommend reading the NPRM and supporting the changes that benefit tower owners without compromising safety.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.